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Last Week of Jenny Holzer's Show at the Whitney Museum

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May 26, 2009

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FINAL AUTOPSY REPORT DOD 003235-DOD 003241 pink white, 2006
Oil on linen, 2 elements66 x 25.5 x 1.5 in.
pages 1 and 7
© Jenny Holzer, member Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY

May 31 is the last day you can catch “PROTECT PROTECT,” artist Jenny Holzer’s show at the Whitney Museum of American Art. One part of the exhibit that will be of particular interest to civil libertarians are Holzer’s “redaction paintings,” in which the artist reproduced redacted documents—including autopsy reports of detainees in U.S. custody in overseas prisons, and email exchanges about the interrogation of prisoners. Holzer gathered these redacted documents from the National Security Archive and the ACLU’s own Freedom of Information Act lawsuits.

Jonathan Hafetz, Staff Attorney with the ACLU’s National Security Project, said of the redaction paintings:

The exhibit captured, in chilling form, the cold, calculated brutality that underlies America’s detention and treatment of detainees during the Bush administration’s “war on terror.” It also makes us focus on how language was manipulated to perpetrate man’s inhumanity to man, epitomized by the abuses at Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo.

The exhibition also uses Holzer’s signature scrolling electronic signs — one piece, called “Thorax,” features an array of documents cornering the case of an Iraqi noncombatant that was killed by American forces.

So if you’re a New Yorker, or plan to visit before the end of the month, check out this show. It won’t disappoint.

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