Today July 29, 2020, American artist Jenny Holzer and Avant Arte, the world’s largest online community of art lovers, launch an edition in collaboration with the New York City AIDS Memorial. The piece, titled URGE AND URGE AND URGE, consists of condoms in a handblown recycled-glass pharmacy jar. The condom wrappers feature some of Holzer’s signature phrases, such as “PROTECT ME FROM WHAT I WANT,” “EXPIRING FOR LOVE IS BEAUTIFUL BUT STUPID,” and “MEN DON’T PROTECT YOU ANYMORE,” as well as excerpts from Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself”. A majority of the proceeds from the sale of this edition will benefit the New York City AIDS Memorial, with which Holzer has long been involved—most notably as the designer of the granite paver installation at the memorial and as the instigator of Light the Fight, a mobile LED intervention for World AIDS Day 2018.
Jenny sitting down with work photo Lili Kobielski
Speaking of her involvement in the project, Jenny Holzer said:
In the lead-up to the launch, Avant Arte will be sharing works from across Holzer’s career with their two million followers on Instagram, as well as stories highlighting two artists—Paul Thek and Darrel Ellis—who were lost to AIDS. The campaign is intended to spotlight the ongoing fight against AIDS for a new generation of art fans, many of whom are too young to remember the earliest days of the epidemic. On launch day, a truck outfitted with LED screens will display a series of animated texts by Holzer and Walt Whitman as it passes through and pauses before historically significant sites in New York City.
The New York City AIDS Memorial is a place of contemplation, providing a shelter for reflection and remembrance of those lost to AIDS. It also serves as a gathering place and reminder of the work that remains to defeat the disease. Most recently, the only remaining medical building at the site, a major emergency room opposite the memorial, has been a haunting reminder of the implications of infectious disease in New York as the city braves the COVID-19 pandemic. While the pandemic has been crushing to all, it has been acutely felt by those living with HIV, given the ramifications for testing, treatment, medication, employment, and insurance of patients. Today, 38 million people are living with HIV worldwide, and 690,000 died of AIDS-related diseases in 2019.
The lion’s share of the proceeds raised by URGE AND URGE AND URGE will go to support educational and cultural programs, as well as the ongoing maintenance of the New York City AIDS Memorial.
Christian Luiten, Co-Founder & Creative Director of Avant Arte, said:
“When I first met Jenny she had a Paul Thek book on the table and we spoke about his work. I hadn’t realised that he, like many other artists, had been lost to AIDS. So when Jenny suggested we collaborate on this edition with the New York City AIDS Memorial, it felt like a good opportunity to share some of those stories and also raise awareness of the ongoing fight against HIV and AIDS to our community.”
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We are super proud to launch an edition full of condoms today with @jennyholzerstudio raising money for @nycaidsmemorial #jennyholzer? ? URGE AND URGE AND URGE, 2020? Text: Survival, 1983–85; and “Song of Myself” from Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman, 1892.? © 2020 Jenny Holzer, member Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY?