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For the Louvre Abu Dhabi 01

2017
Jenny Holzer

Jenny Holzer, a conceptual artist born in the United States in 1950, has worked for nearly forty years on the subjects of writing and language in installations and sculptures that are often concerned with death, war and violence inflicted on women. For the Louvre Abu Dhabi, she has used advanced technologies to enlarge and engrave three ancient texts on large stone panels embedded into the walls. Her early fondness for the space of the streets reappears in what she sees as an “ideal archaic village” sheltered by the futuristic dome of Jean Nouvel. Equally attentive to the aesthetic appearance of these texts and to their meaning, she worked with the scholarly team to select texts written in different languages and alphabets. One, taken from a Mesopotamian tablet, one of earliest known, is in cuneiform script and in harmony with the works exhibited at the very start of the museum’s presentation. The two others, in Arabic and Latin script, echo the languages used in the Louvre Abu Dhabi. By endowing these texts with a monumental and spatial dimension, the artist has established a dialogue between them while also displaying their formal beauty and universal relevance.
This highly poetic text tells the story of the creation of mankind as conceived by certain inhabitants of Mesopotamia over 2,800 years ago. After creating the sky, the land and its rivers, the gods fashioned the first human beings, Ulligara and Zalgarra, whose names are preceded by a divine sign, by sacrificing a minor deity and mixing his blood with clay. Discovered in Assur in ancient Mesopotamia, the clay tablet bearing the text is now in the Vorderasiatisches Museum in Berlin (Germany). The cuneiform signs, which belong to one of the earliest known forms of writing, were made with a reed cut at an angle, called a kalamos or stylus. The text on the left is in Sumerian and the one on the right is its translation in Akkadian. Questions of transcription and translation arose at the very birth of writing in Mesopotamia, together with those of transmission and dialogue between cultures.

Artwork Details

Artist: Jenny Holzer
Title: For the Louvre Abu Dhabi 01
Geography: Abu Dhabi, UAE
Date: 2017

Medium: marble

Classification: sculpture
Dimensions: 7.5 x 13.5 m
Contact for images: images@louvreabudhabi.ae

Permalink: www.louvreabudhabi.ae/en/explore/highlights-of-the-collection/for-the-louvre-abu-dhabi-01

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