There’s a long history of artists honoring Earth Day. In 1970, when the day was first initiated by what was then a grass-roots movement to bring awareness to environmental degradation, Robert Rauschenberg designed a poster featuring a bald eagle set against images of junk yards, contaminated landscapes, and polluted cities. Released in an edition of 10,300, the sales benefitted the American Environment Foundation in Washington, D.C.
This year, in honor of the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, Jenny Holzer continued the tradition.
Holzer collaborated with the gallery Hauser & Wirth and the Brooklyn nonprofit Powerhouse Arts on a special-edition screen print featuring one of her famous Truisms, “ALL THINGS ARE DELICATELY INTERCONNECTED,” rendered in swooping, shimmering calligraphy. The phrase has appeared in her work since the 1970s: She has displayed it in some form or another on a sign above New York’s Times Square, on the side of a Japanese bus and in between Ford and Budweiser ads in a baseball stadium.
Made in an edition of 100 that sold out in less than two hours, each print was made with pewter ink and palladium leaf on Coventry Rag paper. The proceeds from each sale will be split in half and donated to two organizations: 50% goes to the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for the World Health Organization, and 50% goes to Art for Acres, a land conservation initiative supported by members of the artistic community.
Holzer’s expressions have always meant to provoke questions and initiate the process of self-reflection. The one-liners are simple, often contradictory, sometimes funny, occasionally a kind of gut punch. During a pandemic, some of them sound almost a little too on the nose: “BOREDOM MAKES YOU DO CRAZY THINGS,” for one, or especially, “GOVERNMENT IS A BURDEN ON THE PEOPLE.”
“ALL THINGS ARE DELICATELY INTERCONNECTED,” feels like a gentle reminder as much as it does a warning.