Holzer’s work confronts audiences in unexpected places and invites viewers to consider challenging subjects. In the 1990s she began receiving invitations to make memorials for sites including those linked to Nazism and the events of World War II, and to the AIDS epidemic, as well as to the idea of peace more generally. These works, like many of Holzer’s light projections, include text—sometimes authored by the artist, sometimes selected from relevant archives or literature—that meditates on the history of the particular site.
Holzer has also worked in nature. These installations offer a different modality, one tempered by the beauty, texture, and other qualities the artist finds in diverse landscapes, from forests to deserts. These works, not unlike the earlier street posters, inject potent ideas and emotions into surprising places. Boulders have served as excellent supports for these subtle yet intense interventions.
In all these works, the experience of encountering and reading a text in public is crucial. As Holzer has said, “With a sign or a poster in the street you have the space of time it takes a person to walk a few feet. […] I offer what will work in seconds, or in slightly longer blocks of time for people who are willing and able to concentrate. […] You must remember that viewers are volunteers. […] There are sentences that are complete messages, that you can absorb in an instant, but, if someone wants to stay longer, there’s an entire series in which these three-second lines are embedded that gets more complicated.”