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Bighorn sheep
via pixabayMike Goad

Jenny Holzer’s latest installation has been halted because of sick sheep

Baaad news for Holzer fans in California

Artist Jenny Holzer’s latest piece BEFORE I BECAME AFRAID, 2019, due to appear at California’s Desert X over last weekend, was suddenly postponed – a nearby outbreak of sheep pneumonia is reportedly responsible.

The population of desert bighorn sheep residing in the area are in a “sensitive, vulnerable state,” Jack Thompson of the Wildlands Conservancy told the New York Times. Since December, over 20 sheep have died from the illness. The potential harmful impact of the exhibition is unclear, but it seems the combination of crowds of people, outdoor light projections and sick sheep showing erratic behaviour posed too great a risk. “The site that we had planned initially just became not viable after we had observed increased activity of the bighorn sheep next to the site.”

Holzer’s installation is a text-based art piece, used to highlight gun violence, comprising of poetry passages and testimonials from victims and their families, featuring her signature LED light projection. The neo-conceptualist artist is known for using art as a means to communicate something important, with previous exhibits focusing on gender politics and anti-war sentiments. Desert X takes place in Coachella Valley in California, a free, public art exhibition that brings large-scale installations to the desert area.

“The artist’s projections light a mountainside at Whitewater Preserve, filling the ancient landscape with contemporary voices and laying bare the horror and anguish of gun violence through poetry and testimony by family members, survivors, and activists who offer their accounts of grief, anger, solutions, and strength,” the synopsis on the art reads. “Here too Native Nations poets reflect on history as well as their everyday realities in America. Defiant and sometimes tender poems of love, loss, injustice, and then justice scroll large over the mountain, making the preserve a habitat for resilience.”

Holzer has acknowledged the need to put nature first, telling artnet News: “Of course the wildlife should be protected. I’ll find a suitable site or sites for the projection if the authors wish to proceed. I was so lucky and grateful that these good writers and good people wanted to participate. Their important content should be read.”

Baaad luck this time Holzer fans.