Art & Culture

Ryan Lanji and Liat Rosenthal on the Tate’s celebration of Jenny Holzer

A sit down with Curator Ryan Lanji and Liat Rosenthal, Curator of Uniqlo Tate Lates from Tate Modern.

Before headlining Tate Lates last Friday, where they celebrated the works of Jenny Holzer with a wonderful evening of talks and ‘Truisms’, Ryan Lanji sat down with Liat Rosenthal, Curator of Uniqlo Tate Lates from Tate Modern to hear all about it…

Tell us more about Jenny Holzer and her artists room residency and what we can anticipate for the upcoming Jenny Holzer inspired Tate Lates…

May’s Uniqlo Tate Late takes inspiration from ARTIST ROOMS: Jenny Holzer. ARTIST ROOMS is a touring collection of over 1,600 works of modern and contemporary art that is displayed in solo exhibitions across the UK.

For the upcoming late we’re celebrating the work of Jenny Holzer across the whole of Tate Modern, with our signature mix of talks, workshops, films, plus an audio-visual display bringing together NTS DJs and a specially curated selection of Holzer’s Truisms, projected directly onto the Turbine Hall.

During the evening we’re delving into debates inspired by Holzer’s celebrated Truisms, evocative slogans and aphorisms that she prints on posters and ephemera, carves into marble and transmits across LED sculptures. We will host discussions with Season Butler, invite visitors to join Hector Dyer’s procession ‘Truth Be Told: I (Heart) Holzer’, Late Night Library Club are setting up a filming station asking people to voice their truth, and Strand Magazine are running workshops creating zines in response to Holzer’s use of texts and typography. We’re also excited to welcome a range of fabulous speakers to offer their responses to a selection of ‘Truisms’, including Ruby Stevenson, Adah Parris, Lyall Hakaraia, James Massiah, Keith Jarrett, which we’re delighted you will be presenting with Free Word!

What is a Truism and how have you decided to bring these to life?

Truisms are common sayings, clichés and maxims. Holzer composed hundreds of slogans expressing many points of view. Initially, she presented the phrases anonymously, printed on posters that she pasted on the streets of New York City. At the Tate Late, a selection of Truisms will be projected, large-scale onto the Turbine Hall. It’s really interesting to see them in this way – some statements directly conflict with each other, some feel like ancient wisdom, others more ominous in tone, you feel a real sense of clamouring – of all these different voices and perspectives.

Do you think a more engaging and immersive evenings at Tate can create a wider sense of community, what can it do to connect people?

I like to think of Tate Lates presenting the ‘unbuttoned’ version of Tate Modern, a space where people can come together at the end of each month to socialise, connect, and get inspired by some of London’s most exciting emerging creative talent. Community, broadly speaking, is created when people have a shared sense of belonging, values and experience. Tate’s ‘after hours’ strives to create this sense of connection -as well as being a destination venue. We really want people to be part of something, part of a much wider conversation.

How do you think Holzer’s work resonates with today’s art enthusiast?

Holzer’s DIY spirit strikes a chord with so many artists, as does her command of public space and the way she uses words to challenge and engage her viewer. Her use of text as an artist resonates, asking us to consider the power and use of language. It’s interesting to look at Holzer’s work now, in our current post-truth landscape, and incredible to think she was creating this work in a pre-internet, pre-meme, pre-digi world. She’s regarding by many contemporary artists as a trailblazer, a real inspiration.

What are the Truisms you selected for Tate Lates and who’s taking inspiration from them?

We have a beautifully curated group of speakers. Each one has been given a Truism and I can’t wait to see where their imagination takes them. We have ‘Raise Boys and Girls’ by Ruby Stevenson, ‘Technology will make or break us’ by Adah Parris, ‘Chasing the new is dangerous to society’ by Lyall Hakaraia, ‘Boredom makes you do crazy things’ by James Massiah, ‘A solid home base builds a sense of self’ by Ruth Sutoyé presented by Free word and lastly we have ‘Don’t place too much trust in experts’ by your lovely self.

What’s next for Tate lates?

Next up, in June, we’re celebrating the remarkable work of Natalia Goncharova, the multi-hyphen, prolific Russian avant-garde artist and her love of the theatrical, with a festival-like Turbine Hall takeover, brimming with giant sized puppets, ballet sessions, costume making, body art and a cat-walk.

ARTIST ROOMS: Jenny Holzer is open at the Tate Modern until 5th July 2019, click here for more information.

3 June 2019