Few artists have succeeded in treating the ambivalent effects of mass media, and their powers of persuasion in impressive works of art, so cogently and variously as Barbara Kruger has done for more than four decades now.
So it is no surprise that she is represented in major museum collections worldwide and enjoys broad public attention through exhibitions at renowned institutions.
The exhibition at Kunsthaus Bregenz cover three floors with multi-coloured vinyl wall coverings and floorings.
The new solo exhibition especially designed by the artist for the Kunsthaus gives visitors a chance to explore the wide range of her artistic practice in different media. Through emphasising different architectural elements in turn (façade, wall, floor, ceiling) and deliberate changes of media, she creates a varied trajectory that sensitises the viewer to the specific details of the building no less than to the fundamental importance that Barbara Kruger attaches to art’s presentational context.
Ultimately Barbara Kruger’s works are characterised by a high level of social commitment, advocating women’s rights, freedom of opinion, a critical awareness of the seductions of consumer culture and, of how, power, or the lack of it, determines the feel of our days and nights. These striking works, in the best sense of the word, are captivating for their immediacy, their directness of address involving the viewer by means of questions or clear-cut statements. Depending on their message, her text-image designs provoke the viewer to contradict, endorse, laugh, or ponder. No one is left cold.
Messages that Barbara Kruger has used in various contexts are already legendary, for instance: “I shop, therefore I am,” “Your body is a battleground,” or “We don’t need another hero.”
The images she combines with these and other sentences have been fished out of the pool of visual social memory, and for her words and statements she also normally draws on what is already there. In both cases, she deliberately shuns any hierarchy of high and low to create the works that are to an equal exten,t political, iconic, and poetic, for which she is widely known.
Project: Believe + Doubt
Location: Kunsthaus Bregenz, Bregenz, Austria
Architect: Barbara Kruger, Newark, NJ, USA
Technical info: Vinyl wallcoverings and floorings
Picture credits: Christian Hinz and Markus Tretter