Green Table
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Jenny Holzer helps fill the quiet gaps in between conversations.

Ran out of things to talk about? Tired of talking about the weather and other topics of insignificance? Jenny Holzer offers conversation starters and other points of deliberation carved directly onto the granite surface of Green Table. The meaning behind the intricate etchings can be found in one of the lines Holzer engraves: “I WANT TO TELL YOU WHAT I KNOW IN CASE IT IS OF USE.”

Unlike Joseph Kosuth’s One and Three Chairs, Holzer’s functional art piece is meant to be used, not just admired. As part of UC San Diego’s Stuart Collection, Green Table gets more college student interactions than the average work of art. The public artwork is an ideal setting for eating lunch, catching up with friends, and studying last-minute for an overlooked exam. The diverse Truisms Holzer offers are suitable for almost any situation:

You are having a pleasant lunch with friends, casually discussing your sex lives like an episode straight out of Sex and the City, until the Samantha Jones of the group goes into a lengthy and descriptive explanation of her latest sex fantasy. Speechless, you are unsure of how to support your friend’s newly discovered murder roleplay kink. You survey your surroundings and steal a line from Jenny Holzer, letting your bestie know that “MURDER HAS ITS SEXUAL SIDE.”

It is your third day without sleep. You just spent the entirety of last night balancing chemical equations, and finalizing your lab report. In your sleep-deprived haze, you finally come to terms with the likelihood that you probably will not pass your intro class to chemistry, much less find a cure for cancer. You rest your head on the green granite tabletop, seeking consolation for your crushed dreams of financial security, and spot the words, “AMBITION IS JUST AS DANGEROUS AS COMPLACENCY.” Did you set yourself up for disappointment by dreaming too big? Did you really believe you could be financially stable enough to purchase your own home? In this economy? With those student loans?

You are in the midst of a heated debate prophesying the events that will serve as a catalyst for World War III. The person on your right hangs their head and murmurs that it has already begun. You follow their gaze and land on the line, “THE BEGINNING OF THE WAR WILL BE SECRET.” You stare blankly ahead and begin to worry.

In the middle of your coffee break, a text from your least favorite ex triggers a sudden epiphany that your attempts to gain validation by sleeping with random strangers has evolved into a form of self harm. In a panic, you spill the remainder of your coffee, and the aromatic trail leads to Holzer’s empathizing wisdom: “I CONSIDER SLEEPING WITH PEOPLE I DO NOT LIKE. I NEED TO LIE BACK TO FRONT WITH SOMEONE WHO ADORES ME.”

Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on a therapy session with a psychologist who constantly (though unknowingly) invalidates your experiences, Jenny Holzer, MFA, offers her services to you free of charge.






  1. Frost, Mark and David Lynch. “Part 9.” Twin Peaks: The Return. Showtime Networks, 2017.
  2. “Green Table.” Public Art Archive. Accessed 4 November 2016.
  3. “Jenny Holzer Green Table (1992).” UC San Diego Stuart Collection. Accessed 4 November 2017.
  4. Lussac, Olivier. “The Green Table @ Jenny Holzer. 1992.” Art Performance, 2009.
  5. Stuart Collection. “Stuart Collection at UCSD: Jenny Holzer.” Regents of the University of California, 2011.