Arts & Culture

Barbara Kruger: ‘Thinking of You. I Mean Me. I Mean You.’ at The Serpentine, London

todayApril 30, 2024 19 6

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Barbara Kruger: ‘Thinking of You. I Mean Me. I Mean You.’ at The Serpentine, London

(1 February – 17 March 2024: Review)

 Thinking of You. I Mean Me. I Mean You. showcases the artist’s work across multiple mediums and celebrates moments from Kruger’s distinctive career.

Visiting this exhibition at The Serpentine was a notable moment, we were lucky to see a London black Taxi covered in Kruger’s words.

As you enter the show, we were intrigued by Kruger’s critique of material consumption – ‘I love therefore I need’.

When looking at Kruger’s archive, it’s safe to describe her as a woman of many words. Her work has often provided a way for us to define a past generation of sentiments surrounding politics, capitalism, gender disparities, delivered in a style inspired by Russian Constructivist, Alexander Rodchenko.

One of the most dominant examples is in her repeated use of “your body is a battleground” throughout her newer collage works. Originally made by the artist in 1989, at the time, it was about women’s choice and the fight for reproductive freedom, a fight still being waged today.

Kruger started out as a graphic designer, most notably in page design for Condé Nast and as a picture editor for the conglomerate’s now-defunct women’s magazine Mademoiselle.

This early career journey developed her “fluency in working with pictures and words,” she says. The show has a great way of assembling the breadth of her messages together, while also emphasising the power of both her artistic flair and the influences of advertising, and the richness of them combined.

The use of Futura in the 1980s to carry the slogans in her works, Kruger was a part of a movement of feminist artists including Jenny Holzer and Guerilla Girls reclaiming the font from the , but Thinking of You. I Mean Me. I Mean You. clearly shows the fact that Kruger is forever evolving and adapting. Futura has gone beyond a reaction or reclamation for the artist; it has grown and become a tool to send the pervasive sexist, racist and consumerist messaging back to its sender.

In her video works, particularly Untitled (No Comment), present-day advertising also gets the heat. Kruger assembles memes, hairstyle tutorials, blurred-out selfies and, of course, a fast-flickering collection of Instagram screenshots of users, referencing her 1990 piece ‘I Shop Therefore I Am’ and showcasing our interaction with these themes today. It makes you think about how we perpetuate unrealistic standards of beauty and market ourselves more than we perhaps like to admit.

 

Written by: gapciud68

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