Artwork by internationally acclaimed artist Jenny Holzer has a place in the permanent collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, but over the past month, anyone walking around Milwaukee or Madison has been privy to the works of the New York artist famous for using conversation-provoking illuminated text. Her signs have appeared in various locations around the two Wisconsin cities — as well as locations in four other swing states: Michigan, Pennsylvania, Florida and North Carolina.
The message — in all locations — boils down to a basic nonpartisan instruction: Go vote.
It’s a part of Holzer’s You Vote project getting out the message about the importance of voting, issue awareness and empowerment. The artwork is appearing in a variety of different mediums tied to the arts, academia and sports worlds.
There is a mural on the MMoCA art museum window, trucks carrying LED messages, light projections, murals, billboards, posters, theater marquees, social media and more. The Madison locations also include city utility boxes and banners on the Park Street and Campus Drive bridges — with original text from UW-Madison First Wave scholars.
In Wisconsin the partners include the Haggerty Museum of Art at Marquette University, the Milwaukee Bucks & Fiserv Forum, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, the Madison Arts Commission and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The animations on the Fiserv began last week featuring quotes from Milwaukee Bucks players in a partnership with Bucks Vote, a team initiative that began in August.
The digital installation at the Fiserv used the following quotes from Bucks’ players broadcast in their own voices:
George Hill: “We need to come together and embrace our fundamental right to vote. To fight suppression, injustice and for equality, we must first make the choice of who we want to represent us in office by exercising that right.”
Wesley Matthews: “Our future, our children’s future and their children’s future is what WE make it! VOTE!”
Marvin Williams: “You VOTE to be heard. You VOTE for change. You VOTE for your future. VOTE!!”
Robin Lopez: “Cast votes, not aspersions.”
The Detroit Pistons are also participating.
The UW-Madison Division of Arts First Wave scholars, who are from underrepresented groups on campus, are also putting together a film based on their responses to Jenny Holzer’s work that includes Hip Hop, spoken word poetry, dance and other performances they are doing in front of the various installations.
And the marquee billboard takeover is happening at four Madison locations: Four marquees including the the Barrymore Theater, the Orpheum Theater, the
Sylvee Theater and the Majestic Theater. Text found on those four marquees include Stacey Abrams quotes: “Demand fairness wherever it can be found” and “Voting will not save us from harm but silence will damn us all.”
And the large-scale mural at MMoCA features a quote by abolitionist and women’s rights activist Sojourner Truth: “Truth is powerful and will prevail.”