As one of America’s most loved living artists since the 1980s, Jenny Holzer’s practice circles around language in order to question systems of power and authority in society. Since 2010, Holzer’s work has been focused particularly on modern conflict. On her first visit to Blenheim Palace, the artist became fascinated by the Palace’s own military history, not only as the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill, but also originally built as a reward to the 1st Duke of Marlborough for his military triumphs at the 1704 Battle of Blenheim.
On the occasion of her exhibition at Blenheim Palace, Holzer uses this legacy as a starting point to look at the timeless and universal theme of conflict, across time and countries. Using painting, stonework, light projections, a virtual reality mobile app and her celebrated LED light installations, Holzer engages with the historical precedents that have cemented Blenheim’s enduring legacy, and offers descriptions of life during wartime, recounting real experiences of soldiers and civilians. The exhibition includes a display of Holzer’s text-based light works projected onto the historic facade of the Palace, with content drawn from accounts gathered by charities The Not Forgotten Association, Save the Children, Human Rights Watch, and polish war poet Anna Swirszczynska.