Sackner Archive

Protect Me From What I Want

There is one photo on this page, and it is of a black hat with a black patch. Yellow embroidered text and border feature on the patch, which says Protect Me From What I Want.
A black trucker hat with mesh back features a black patch with yellow lettering and border. It says protect me from what I want.

Jenny Holzer. Protect Me From What I Want. 1987. Embroidered hat. Special Collections, University of Iowa Libraries.

Around Manhattan in the late 1970’s, New Yorkers began noticing anonymous posters covered with edgy one-liners plastered to walls and fences. These were “Truisms,” the early work of artist Jenny Holzer. Building on the conceptual art of the 1960’s and 1970’s, Holzer explored narrative presentation outside the museum or gallery using a wide variety of forms to inhabit public spaces, most notably her famous use of electronic LED advertising signs to carry her Truisms, some of enormous size. She also created accessible multiples of stickers, shirts, hats, and postcards. Using a more exclusive form, Holzer once covered a custom BMW racecar with messages such as, “You are so complex, you don’t respond to danger” and “Monomania is a prerequisite of success.” Holzer’s innovative art is an expression of her feminist politics and her engagement with a critique of art and the art world, of commodification and the marketplace.

Among the Jenny Holzer artworks in the Sackner Archive is a trucker hat, one of her multiples, bearing the embroidered text, “Protect Me From What I Want.” The message, like others of Holzer’s, speaks of identity, power, and desire. The hat is High and Low culture simultaneously, shifting seamlessly from one to the other, unstable and dangerous.

 

– Peter Balestrieri, Curator, Science Fiction and Popular Culture​ Collections