Like much of her work, Jenny Holzer's installation at the Berlin Neue Nationalgalerie was site-specific, made especially for a specific space and designed to last a particular length of time. However, this exhibition has become a permanent part of Berlin's new national gallery due to its success and Holzer's thoughtful response to the building's architecture.
Her use of LED displays as art parallel the elegant, abstract structure that is the gallery designed by Mies van der Rohe. The thirteen LED displays were installed on the ceiling grid of the great hall; each is over 160 feet long for a total of 2200 feet. They hang 26 feet in the air and use a total of 701,792 amber LEDs.
The signs were programmed in mirrored text with alternating speed to work in conjunction with the building's glass surfaces at night. Using a ratio of sign speed and letter height, the appearance of the gallery roof was made even more dramatic; visual effects simulated the roof to bow, appear concave, convex, and even twisted.
"A minimal building with restrained architecture deserves to be respected for its inherent beauty. This LED signage animates the structure and calls attention to its lines while communicating a message – whatever it may be." "Incredibly subtle and as classic as the architecture. A contemporary example of 'words on buildings' that should make even architects smile."
Paul A. Miller (Principal in Charge), Jenny Holzer, Paul Miller