One of Jenny Holzer's works in partnership with 'Vogue.' The artist and magazine partnered up for an emotionally resonant series regarding gun violence.



Jenny Holzer and Vogue Team Up To Powerfully Raise Gun Violence Awareness

Just a day after the horrific shooting at UCLA that left a professor dead and the campus in lockdown, today, June 2nd, marks National Gun Violence Awareness Day. Perhaps the events in California are a more salient reminder of the country’s devastating gun problem than the usual slew of statistics: public shootings and acts of domestic terrorism may succeed at indicating the need for increased gun legislation more powerfully than abstract numbers; however, change is increasingly hard to come by. The national debate over gun control, while also a healthy byproduct of democracy, has become hopelessly entrenched, the delay in action only developing into an ongoing threat to public wellbeing.

Vogue has partnered with artist Jenny Holzer and the families of gun violence victims to produce a heartfelt series of articles that detail a shooting’s emotional aftermath and lasting impact. Stories from family members of suicide victims, a librarian from Sandy Hook Elementary, and the son of a man killed in San Bernardino are punctuated by Holzer’s short videos of flashing, high-contrast, capitalized text–all excerpts from the essays.

By Jenny Holzer, via Vogue
Holzer’s work is always loud and powerful, but it feels especially necessary in this context.

Holzer is best known for her ‘70s and ‘80s work, Truisms, a list of aphorisms and proverbs designed to elicit various reactions (anger, laughter, etc.) from its readers and spark thought. The gun violence animations maintain a similar interest in language, but are rendered in such a way that would cross into cheesy “word art,” movie-title territory, if it were not for the power of the statements within. In one animation, for example, each word appears in a ghastly yellow on a red background, wiggling side-to-side and zooming towards the viewer. Visually, it looks like something out of a cheap infomercial or an overzealous PowerPoint presentation, but it reads “I HEARD KRISTEN EXCLAIM GET DOWN MOM! AS SHE LAY ON THE FLOOR.” The contrast between the medium and the message, if anything, magnifies the latter, and is probably the most powerful thing you’ll see on in a long time.

Images and video via Vogue

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