“Jenny Holzer’s ongoing series of redaction paintings began in 2005 through adherence to a simple formula: one or more linen canvases are hand-painted with a monochromatic oil ground, each of which is then silk-screened with an enlarged reproduction of a page from a declassified United States government document pertaining to the War on Terror. The documents range from memos and bureaucratic forms to letters and email exchanges concerning Al Qaeda, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, torture at Abu Ghraib, prisoner abuse at Guantanamo Bay, and other related matters….
The documents that Holzer reproduces as redaction paintings are routinely disregarded in public discourse, especially in the media, despite being readily available in various archives. This absence of actively maintained historical memory severs the past from the recent and creates a blind spot in the public field of vision. By returning to the history of the War on Terror, the redaction paintings… restore[sic] the public visibility of these important documents from the recent past. This, in turn, enables the active reconstitution of what tends to be passively disavowed: historical knowledge, especially knowledge of the recent past, without which the present will always only be the return of a repressed disaster.”
- Robert Bailey. “Unknown Knowns: Jenny Holzer’s Redaction Paintings and the History of the War on Terror.” October 142 (2012): 145.
1. Jenny Holzer - BIG CONTAINER yellow white [detail from OUTSIDE YOUR AGENCY blue] (2006)
2. Jenny Holzer - Archive (2006)
3. Jenny Holzer - HERDER black [detail] (2006)
4. Jenny Holzer - SPECIAL FORCES yellow white (2006)
5. Jenny Holzer - ENDGAME black (2011)