Barbara Kruger (2011) All photos via L&M Arts (Installation Photography: Joshua White/JWPictures.com)
Over ten years have passed since Barbara Kruger has had a solo exhibition in her hometown of Los Angeles. L&M Arts currently presents a long overdue show featuring the artist’s signature text “wrap” as well as a video installation. Kruger’s use of text dates back to the 1980’s when she coined such phrases as “I shop therefore I am” and “Your body is a battleground.” The L&M exhibition continues to spotlight themes of consumerism and desire, money and power.
More text and images after the jump…
The West Gallery features massive white letters emblazoned across a black background and wrapped around the entirely of the space including walls, ceiling, and floor. Being fully immersed by text, the viewer is forced to grapple with slogans such as “MONEY IS LIKE SHIT YOU ONLY FEEL IT WHEN IT MOVES” and “ALMOST FAMOUS, ALMOST BEAUTIFUL, ALMOST SKINNY, ALMOST HAPPY, ALMOST RICH, ALMOST PERFECT.” The sheer size of the letters, as well as the enormity of the space they inhabit, is unavoidably confrontational. Along with presenting a stringent critique of our consumerist culture, Kruger’s work also manages to instill a degree of self-awareness to everyone who experiences the text wraps, forcing the viewer to evaluate his or her own vanities and desires.
The exterior of the gallery is also part of the exhibition. Two projections, You Want It and In Violence, are visible on the brick facade at night. Images are presented and juxtaposed with text rolling across the building. The words, “IN VIOLENCE WE FORGET WHO WE ARE!”, are accompanied by images of warfare and weeping individuals. It is followed by the declaration, “YOU WANT IT. YOU BUY IT. YOU FORGET IT” which is interspersed with pictures of expensive luxury goods like cars and watches.
The East Gallery features, The Globe Shrinks (2010), a 13 minute multi-channel video installation. Using the four gallery walls for projections, the video cleverly creates relationships between the four walls and the action within the videos. On one wall, a women stands against a green background with her hair billowing in the wind. Directly opposite, a vintage fan appears to provide the wind fanning her hair. People tell lightbulb jokes. Muslims, Jews, and Evangelical Christians engage in religious rituals, each on their separate wall. Occasionally the room goes dark and a voice addresses the viewer, making comments like, “You’re thinking about everything you want and don’t have. I’ve got you where I want you. In the dark.” Occasionally, the images coincide with similar messages in the signature white on black text.
- S. Zabrodski