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Art Show Openings: Manga & Anime, Jenny Holzer

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Two art shows opening this week look at media art -- and complex styles of communication.

First -- the world of Japanese cartoons and videos -- called "manga" and anime -- is on display at the Japan Society. The exhibition looks at 30 years of the cartoon style -- which has a cult following world wide. Joe Earle, the Director of the Japan Society Gallery, says the show offers a lot to the un-initiated:

EARLE: They will get a sense that this is not just cheap trashy throwaway art form. This is something that involves immense concentration, patience, invention, genius.

The show is laid out in a design that's suggestive of outerspace. Earle says that anime and manga both comment on the contemporary world, and speculate on the world to come, often with disturbing results.

The Anime show isn't the only one opening this week that looks at unusual approaches to media.

At the Whitney Museum -- Jenny Holzer. She's known for her pithy "truisms." Phrases like "a relaxed man is not necessarily a better man" and "a sense of timing is the mark of genius." She often displays them in bright L.E.D lights -- in unlikely locations -- marquees, or the side of buildings.

Now, her newest work is up at the Whitney Museum of Art. The show features her signature style -- which combines texts and bold colors. Holzer says there are a couple of reasons she uses LED lights"

HOLZER: The motion tends to hold people and with a lot of this material I want people to stay with it if they're willing.

In addition to the LED sculptures, Holzer's latest projects feature silk-screened paintings of de-classified and redacted government documents. Many of them outline U.S. strategies for the war in Iraq and testimony from U.S. soldiers and Iraqi detainees.

HOLZER: Holzer says the choice to make the documents into paintings was very purposeful, because paintings are often treated very preciously.

Some of these documents were languishing and I thought well I'll put them upright and put them on paintings and maybe people will look at them and cherish them and keep them.

Both shows open this week. On our culture blog, watch a slideshow of the Krazy! exhibition of anime and manga, a slideshow of work from the Whitney's Jenny Holzer exhibition and videos from the same artist.

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