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Internationally renowned artist Jenny Holzer will illuminate New York University’s Elmer Holmes Bobst Library from Monday, October 3, through Wednesday, October 5, as part of a presentation entitled “For the City.” From dusk until midnight, Holzer will project recently declassified United States government documents on Bobst Library, located at 70 Washington Square South. The presentation will be projected on the west side of the library, facing LaGuardia Place, and from Washington Square Park projecting onto the northeast façade of the library presented with Creative Time.
The artist’s public presentation of these documents explores the problem of achieving a just and workable balance between secrecy and transparency. Under the landmark Freedom of Information Act passed in 1966, all of the selected texts are now public record and available to anyone with access to the Internet or to research libraries such as Bobst, though some documents remain heavily redacted. Thomas Blanton, director of the National Security Archive, with whom Holzer worked while researching the documents, said, “She turns every surface into a page, she illuminates not only texts but perception, and by projecting these secrets into the night she transforms the worlds of power into transitory bolts of lightning.”
For nearly a decade, light projections have been a critical component of Holzer’s artistic practice. Besides the NYU Bobst Library, Rockefeller Center (September 29-October 2), and the New York Public Library (October 6-October 9) will also be illuminated. These projections will be of poems that detail hope, pain, and longing and will include work by Wislawa Szymborska, Yehuda Amichai, and Henri Cole.
The striking, 12-story Elmer Holmes Bobst Library, designed by Philip Johnson and Richard Foster, is the flagship of a nine-library, 4.5 million-volume system that provides students and faculty members with access to the world’s scholarship and serves as a center for the NYU community’s intellectual life. The Bobst Library houses more than 3.3 million volumes, 20 thousand journals, and over 3.5 million microforms; and provides access to thousands of electronic resources both on-site and to the NYU community around the world via the Internet. The Library is visited by more than 6,500 users per day and circulates almost one million books annually.