Jenny Holzer’s piece from 1998 titled Rome is a series of text projections displayed in Rome at the Spanish Steps. Phrases like “who died looking,” and “whose thoughts are missing” are projected on the steps. Jenny Holzer says that her work “focuses on cruelty in hopes that people will recoil.” She addresses issues of violence, identity, gender, government, politics, war, death, and power. Her public works could also be seen as an effort to reclaim the public space that has become increasingly privatized. Text is central to her work, and the words themselves are a message that text found in urban spaces are not without a place, time, and author.
The ephemeral nature of her medium, light, in combination with the content, the ever changing but seemingly static human condition makes an interesting combination. Words are fleeting however they are also powerful and this is highlighted in the light projections Holzer uses to transform any space into her own canvas.