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Young artists in Chelsea and Brooklyn told me to see Jenny Holzer’s exhibition in June. Holzer filled all three rooms of the Cheim & Read gallery with declassified, sometimes heavily censored, documents from American military and intelligence agencies. Holzer turned the much enlarged documents into silkscreen paintings, sometimes very large, sometimes multipaneled, in stark black against white, mild blues, blood red against a tarnished field. Subjects were the Iraq and Afghan wars, prison abuse, court martials and covert operations. Memorably, along with the documents detailing American soldiers’ abuse of Iraqi prisoners, Holzer presented a painting of a letter from the father of a court martialed American soldier, pleading for his son. Not only has Holzer dragged these documents out from the dark, but she has forced us to look at them in a public and well-lit space where we can look at each other looking. The paintings were sometimes difficult to read, their beauty shocking. When I was at the gallery on a Friday evening, there were a lot of very silent people there, reading paintings.

— Gloria Tanchelev

- Meredith Tromble [Tuesday, July 11th, 2006]

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