Vienna

Lisa Holzer, The Party Sequel (Paris), 2017, polyurethane and acrylic paint on glass, ink-jet print, 43 1/2 x 34“. From the series ”The Party Sequel (Paris)," 2017.

Lisa Holzer, The Party Sequel (Paris), 2017, polyurethane and acrylic paint on glass, ink-jet print, 43 1/2 x 34“. From the series ”The Party Sequel (Paris)," 2017.

Lisa Holzer

LAYR | Vienna

Lisa Holzer, The Party Sequel (Paris), 2017, polyurethane and acrylic paint on glass, ink-jet print, 43 1/2 x 34“. From the series ”The Party Sequel (Paris)," 2017.

This exhibition, “I come in you,” featured the combination of pictures and text for which Lisa Holzer has become well known. In total, fifteen works from two series—“The Party Sequel (Berlin)” and “The Party Sequel (Paris),” both 2017—were exhibited together with a pair of posters bearing a text with the auspicious title I cry., 2018. I USED TO CRY A LOT AT PARTIES, Holzer admits in the text, and along with her works’ titles the statement seems to sum up what the exhibition was about: parties and crying.

And yet, was there a party at all? The “Party Sequels” are two series of large photographs, all forty-three-and-one-half by thirty-four inches, printed on cotton paper, showing either pureed foods or sugar icing in various colors. The mashed potatoes, peas, black beans, and carrots formed granular masses, having been expressively smeared on even white surfaces in an almost painterly fashion, as if spread with a palette knife. The cake icing, on the other hand, appeared rather washy. One could almost feel how the sticky and viscous substance had slowly dribbled over its support before cooling down and finding its peculiar shape.

After framing the pictures, Holzer adds a few extras. Take, for instance, a picture from the Berlin series. On top of the depicted potato puree—that is, onto the glass of the framed photograph—Holzer has placed some dabs of orange paint right in the center and some drops of transparent Crystal Clear 202/1 polyurethane on other parts of the glass. Evidently, through these surface additions Holzer’s works become a little more than framed photographs; they become singular objects that by means of the artist’s hand received an individual finish that sets them apart from one another.

For Holzer, however, these additions are not purely aesthetic. They are part of an extensive endeavor to enrich her works with all sorts of meanings and references. The clues to these come not so much from the works themselves as from her text. Unlike a typical press release, it is printed on two large sheets of paper, each about forty-six by thirty-three inches. Mounted in the gallery together with the photographs, it resembled a wall panel at a museum. From it we learn that Holzer’s inspiration came, in part, from Morris Louis’s 1958–59 “Veil” paintings, and that her son’s watercolors, too, were of some influence. We learn that the mashed and melted foods are supposed to evoke SHITTY-SWEET REGRESSION, almost like excrement and concrete, but not quite; and that the drops of polyurethane represent either tears or sweat. The pictures, Holzer writes, are crying, and sometimes color permeates the glass: DO THEY PUKE A LITTLE? I DON'T KNOW (EXACTLY) WHY THEY PUKE, OR CRY and WHAT DO I TELL, THE PICTURES ME?

Apparently, Holzer does not pretend to know exactly what her images express, but nevertheless I cry. serves to imbue them with all sorts of specific meanings. The personal associations in her stream-of-consciousness writing meander, but footnotes reveal precise self-references. Quite blatantly, the obscure vagueness of the personal sugarcoats an otherwise rather brittle Conceptualism, in which a tear in fact equals a drop of Crystal Clear 202/1 polyurethane.

David Misteli