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Magazine page of declassified documents

Activated page from Jenny Holzer’s Memoranda. Photo © Esopus Foundation Ltd

Jenny Holzer
Memoranda
Esopus 3 (Fall 2004)

"I’m always trying to encourage artists to do things a little bit out of their comfort zone and try something maybe they haven’t done before—something that hasn’t been done in a magazine before. Jenny was working with these declassified government documents around that time. It was just after the Abu Ghraib memo was released; these had been declassified by the National Security Archives. I said, 'If you could do anything you wanted, what would you want to do?' And she said, 'I’d like to use disappearing ink.' That was a new one for me. I started to do some research, and I found this company in Colorado that had all kinds of crazy inks, but one called photo chromatic ink. It was invisible until you put it up next to ultraviolet light, and then it would suddenly charge and become this thing on a page.

It was a very complicated job because the ink had to be heated to a certain temperature as soon it came off press or it wouldn’t affix properly. Again, we didn’t know until the last minute whether it was going to work or not. And when you have somebody like Jenny Holzer, whom I admire so much and respect so much, you don’t want to get it wrong."