Barbara Kruger, FOREVER (Installation View). All images via Anna Corrigan for Art Observed.
Now through December 22, Sprüth Magers Berlin is presenting FOREVER, a new site-specific work by Barbara Kruger. For this exhibition, the artist has created an immersive room-wrap and several new vinyl works, which together take over all four walls and the floor of the gallery’s main exhibition room. The language around which this exhibition centers reflects Kruger’s bold and distinctive voice, one which has come to define her work over the course of her 40-year career.
FOREVER includes the works ‘Untitled (Bad is Good)’, ‘Untitled (You Are Here)’, and ‘Untitled (War Time, War Crime)’, which fill the gallery space floor to ceiling and wall to wall. Kruger’s interest in feminist art and language (and the intersection between the two) comes through especially in ‘Untitled (You Are Here)’, which quotes Virginia Woolf’s 1929 feminist treatise “A Room of One’s Own”. In enormous block letters, towering over the doorway to the gallery, a circular frame that evoking a magnifying-class contains the words: “You know that women have served all these centuries as looking glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of man at twice its natural size.”
In ‘Untitled (War Time, War Crime)’, various designations and descriptions of war are repeated in a black and white pattern, reading as a list or meditation on the widespread intervention of the language of war on many different facets of life. “War time, war crime, war game, gang war, civil war, holy war, class war, bidding war…” The repetition of language, color, and the shapes of the letters that spell out the word ‘war’ create an effect of dizzying disorientation, one the mirrors the scale of confusion and instability described by the state of war.
This exhibition marks the 30th anniversary of Kruger’s first solo exhibition with Sprüth Magers Gallery. The artist’s work with pictures and words has become iconic for the reach of its political and social critique. In only a few words, printed large in uppercase block print, Kruger manages to satirize, denounce, and illuminate the uses of power and force in art, culture, and language. The bold, massive statements printed in her signature towering uppercase black and white letters spell out a critique and succinct analysis of the state of politics, desire, sexism, and consumerism today. Kruger’s work reveals the power of language as a signifying as well as aesthetic force, and addresses the viewer directly in an appeal to reason and transparency, recognizing how power is driven through culture.
The artist’s work is on view through December 22nd.
— A. Corrigan
Exhibition Page [Sprüth Magers]