You and I

August 20, 2022
38

New York • Barbara Kruger at MoMA

The artist’s research focuses on female identity, its use in the media and the use of stereotypes

Liminal space by definition, that between life and art, made up of encounters and contrasts that are never quite defined, generating other equally liminal spaces, separated by the blurred boundaries between different arts. At the entrance to one of these thresholds, ut pictura poësis has always been written: as in painting so in poetry. Whether in words or images, the artist has the ambition to create an illusionistic effect such that the thing represented is grasped with a snap of the fingers.

IN HER LATEST SITE- SPECIFIC WORK FOR MOMA, WORDS SEEM TO TAKE
PRECEDENCE OVER IMAGES BUT THESE ARE EVOKED BY EXPRESSIONS THAT REAFFIRM THE NEED FOR THE OTHER

In reality it is, precisely, illusion. Boundaries remain firm, favoring clashes more than encounters, at least for artists who have understood that art is about contrasts. Of this artistic tradition, Barbara Kruger is undoubtedly one of the most important contemporary exponents. An iconic work such as Untitled (your body is a battleground), from 1989, with its close-up of a woman’s face split in two and the lettering, white on a blood-red background, resembling an advertisement or the cover of a tabloid, lends itself well to summarizing the artist’s stimulating research path: female identity, its use by the media and the use of stereotypes. Everything in the artist’s works becomes problematic and complex - a battlefield, to borrow the title of the work - thanks to games of contrasts that are enacted with the use of basic and immediately recognizable images and writings that look like slogans, but which, unlike slogans, do not simplify, but rather complicate. In her latest site-specific work for MoMA, THINKING OF YOU. I MEAN ME. I MEAN YOU, the words apparently seem to override the images to the point of erasing them.

SHE SUCCEEDS ONCE AGAIN IN THE FEAT
OF CREATING A HYBRID SPACE BY ABOLISHING ALL METAPHORS

But however absent, the images are evoked by expressions, injunctions and requests that seem like pleas and reaffirm at every point the need for the other. For someone like Barbara Kruger who has been a pioneer of research on identities and gender in visual culture, this is an opening that on the one hand marks the drama of the present time, marked by conflicts and stupid megalomanias to which the art system is anything but unrelated, on the other it affirms the need to rediscover a communal or extra-individual dimension. The artist succeeds once again in the feat of creating a hybrid space, this time by abolishing all metaphors
and reminding with the words that are repeated most often and stands out among them all, what the true need of art is, of each of us. The Other, but not just any abstract Other. Nothing but you.

 

Barbara Kruger

THINKING OF YOU. I MEAN ME. I MEAN YOU

New York

MoMA

Curated by di Peter Eleey

Lanka Tattersall

Until the 2/01/23

The Author

7 Post

After deciding, at the age of seven, to become a writer, he spent the next thirty years participating in various editorial activities - as an essayist, translator, critic - but always avoiding that goal he set for himself when he was a child. In the meanwhile, he cultivates his graphomania and collaborates with the IULM University of Milan holding courses in Philosophy of art and Aesthetics. When he is not on the couch with a book in his hand, he is on the road. Indeed he is travelling also when he is on the couch with a book in his hand. Or when he visits an exhibition, or watches a movie. His mind is never present but always wandering.

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