Jenny Holzer, from Lustmord (1993-1994)

As a contributor to the 2013 language art anthology The Dark Would I was commissioned to select another anthology contributor and write a commentary on their work. The work I selected was Lustmord by Jenny Holzer; a piece also included in the subsequent The Dark Would exhibition at Summerhall, Edinburgh (7 December 2013 – 24 January 2014).

FLUX magazine is assembling a special feature on the book and exhibition, comprising writing from TDW curator Philip Davenport and additional commentaries including my own. Philip’s text is here; others are to follow. An extract from my text is below, and an edited version will also appear in the exhibition’s download catalogue.

Mobile, variable, soft, the skin crawls under the track of the ink. Your awful language. There is something grotesque about writing on skin. Something is thrown out of balance when the surface can feel the pen stalking across its breadth: when it is brought to participate in the act of writing in a sentient way, to support the instrument of inscription and so to be complicit in its articulation, all the while remaining mute. These patches of living skin have been set upon by writing, and the voice they speak belongs to someone else. I position her mouth, comes the voice.