Moving words

“I work with pictures and words because they have the ability to determine who we are and who we aren’t.” — Barbara Kruger

So today I found out that the LA Fund for Public Education and ForYourArt  is initiating what is the first of  a couple art projects to promote awareness of the arts in LA. The first one is being produced by Barbara Kruger, an artist known for her text based images, using billboards and 12 buses to spread her work across the city, which should appear in January.

The billboard is fantastic medium for Kruger, who if you know her work, is known for large images drawing from the media and plastering her own slogans and questions over them. “Short machine-gun bursts of words that when isolated, and framed by Kruger’s gaze, linger in your mind, forcing you to think twice, thrice about clichés and catchphrases, introducing ironies into cultural idioms and the conventional wisdom they embed in our brains.”*

Her first job was a page designer at Mademoiselle, using type to lure readers into the fashion pages, inspiring the subject of her cannon in the art world- questioning readers’ seduction by consumerism;  ‘”many of her early pieces were formal verbal defacements of glossy magazine pages, glamorous graffiti. One of her most famous works proclaimed, “I shop therefore I am.”’*

“Her work has become more relevant than ever at a time when we are inundated by words in a dizzying, delirious way—by the torrent, the tidal wave, the tsunami unleashed by the Internet.”* In a world where image has become everything, and visual stimulation sans substance easier for consumption than anything with depth, Kruger’s use of text is there to pointedly remind us of our motives. Concisely,without mincing her words, her stark capitaled text is a antidote to the endless commentary that dances around events and ideas, without ever saying anything.

“‘What do you read, my lord?’ Polonius asks Hamlet. “Words, words, words,” he replies. Meaningless words. And that is what they threaten to become as we drown in oceans of text on the web. Pixels, pixels, pixels.” Consumed by the surface image on the streets and overwhelmed with streams of meaningless words on the internet.

I’m excited by this, because I love text based art, and am interested in the discrepancies that arise between image and text, although in Kruger’s case, it’s the involvement between image and text that create her potent messages, “point[ing] to photography’s complicity in reinforcing ideologies of power and control, in maintaining gender stereotypes, and in stimulating consumer desire,and expose gender stereotypes.”**

I’m also excited by this because LA is finally trying to showcase some of the artists that live here. I’m tired of finding out about fanastic exhibitions of Jim Shaw, Kruger herself (at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington), Bill Viola, Paul McCarthy and Takashi Murakami appearing in London and New York when the involved artists all live within city walls.

Images courtesy of the artist.

For more info:

On the exhibition at Hirshhorn:

On Barbara Kruger at Lacma:

About CT

Claire Townsend is a freelance costume designer/maker and theatre practitioner.
Aside | This entry was posted in art, graphic design, los angeles, public art, text-based artists, Uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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