'For Science' by Jenny Holzer

2020 in New York and California
Jenny Holzer

'For Science' sculpture by Jenny Holzer, 2020, comprising two benches made from silver cloud granite. A sand-blasted text in capital letters features down the centre of each bench seat: 'Illness is the night-side of life' on one, 'What kind of life exists without language?' on the other. This is a conceptual artwork by Holzer, working in New York, fabricated by Carnevale and Lohr in Bell Gardens, California.

Holzer is one of the most significant artists working today, particularly known for her works incorporating pithy, often political statements displayed in the public realm. Beginning with posters displayed in Times Square New York in the 1970s, her works have since ranged from T-shirts and plaques, to large light projections and stone carvings. She challenges ignorance and violence, championing art as a tool for public good.

Holzer was commissioned to produce a new piece for the Science Museum’s ‘Faith, Hope and Fear’ gallery within ‘Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries’ in 2020. Her response, ‘For Science’ offers two inscribed benches as a place for respite and reflection. They are constructed from silver cloud granite, chosen to evoke memorials and monuments. The texts are taken from Susan Sontag’s ‘Illness as Metaphor’ from 1978 and Paul Kalanithi’s ‘When Breath Becomes Air’ from 2016. Both authors wrote in response to living with cancer, Holzer describes “their thinking about illness [as] expansive and frank.”


Object Number:
Bench 1: 430 mm x 1880 mm x 560 mm, 518 kg
Bench 2: 430 mm x 1880 mm x 560 mm, 518 kg
(c) 2020 Jenny Holzer, member Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY. Commissioned for the Medicine Galleries by Science Museum Group. Commission and acquisition made possible with Art Fund support. With additional thanks to the Henry Moore Foundation.