Best Of 2011, Guest Editors: Wye Oak On Jenny Holzer’s “Pearls Of Wisdom”

As 2011 comes to an end, we are taking a look back at some of our favorite posts of the year by our guest editors.

Over the course of three surprise-filled albums, Wye Oak has artistically come of age in the public eye. Singer/guitarist Jenn Wasner and drummer/keyboardist Andy Stack mesh spellbinding folk-rock melodies with a dynamic range that shifts, in the blink of an eye, from the parlor to the garage. The Baltimore duo, whose latest album Civilian (Merge) can whisper as loud as it rocks the rafters, is on duty all week as guest editors of the MAGNET website. Read our brand new Q&A with Wasner.

Jenn: I’m not going to attempt to provide any sort of background or context for Jenny Holzer‘s work, because I am far from informed. And there is a thing called the Internet, and if you are interested in learning more, you can use it to look her up. All I know is that there is a club in Tucson, Ariz., called Club Congress, and in that club there is a hotel, and in that hotel there is a restaurant, and that restaurant has Ms. Holzer’s “Pearls Of Wisdom” hanging on the wall. It is simply three framed panels of white paper with sentence after sentence in plain black text. I find it unbelievably compelling and powerful, but I couldn’t tell you why. Maybe because I’m obsessed with words. Probably also because it’s insightful, but it also contradicts itself often, so it manages to align itself with whatever worldview you’ve managed to convince yourself to adopt on that particular day. I have a couple of awful photos of it I keep in my phone. Here are some of my favorites on this particular day: “Emotional responses are as valuable as intellectual responses,” “Decency is a relative thing,” “Being honest is not always the kindest way,” “Disgust is the appropriate response to most situations” and “You have to hurt others to be extraordinary.” It’s like a philosophical choose-your-own-adventure. You have to decide for yourself which ones to believe!

More photos after the jump.