Friday, May 27, 2011

Arty Farty Friday ~ Barbara Kruger

Barbara Kruger is an artist whose work, once identified, is immediately recognisable from then on. She incorporates text and old photographs from magazines, or her own photographs, to present provocative messages. These concern consumer culture, stereoptying, feminism, politics etc. In recent years she has moved into video art and installation art.

One of Ms Kruger's best known slogans “I shop therefore I am” mocks consumerism.

She also uses her artwork as a platform to make known her political and social views on some controversial issues such as abortion i.e. “Pro-life for the unborn…Pro-death for the born.”

In an interview with Barbara Kruger conducted by Thyrza Nichols Goodeve in the November 1997 issue of Art in America, titled “The Art of Public Address,” Ms Kruger explained:

The brevity of the text is about cutting through the grease. I just want to address people in a very forthright manner. It is why I always use pronouns, because they cut through in the same way. Direct address has been a consistent tactic in my work, regardless of the medium that I'm working in. I try to deal with the complexities of power and social life, but as far as the visual presentation goes I purposely avoid a high degree of difficulty. I want people to be drawn into the space of the work. And a lot of people are like me in that they have relatively short attention spans. So I shoot for the window of opportunity.

Barbara Kruger was born into a working class background in Newark, New Jersey on 26 January 1945. After graduating from Syracuse University, she enrolled in Parsons School of Design in 1965. Shortly after, she was given a job at Mademoiselle.

From an interview at Dazed Digital

I felt like a Martian at Syracuse University. Most of the people there were very wealthy and had a lot of facial surgery. After the first year at college I saw little reason to stay. And my father had died, so I wanted to be closer to my mom in New Jersey.

I transferred to Parsons School of Design and studied with Diane Arbus. She was the first female role model I had that didn’t wash the kitchen floor six times a day.
I left school at 19. I didn’t have the money to continue. Initially, I got a job as a telephone operator. Then I was hired at Condé Nast as an assistant designer at Mademoiselle Magazine.

In the beginning, it was thrilling to work for magazines because it was all new, and I thought I wanted to be Art Director of the World! But I soon realised that I just didn’t have it in me to be a designer. Designers have to construct millions of different images of perfection to suit their clients. The have extraordinarily broad skill sets. I admire that tremendously, but I could never do that.

I didn’t have a pot to piss in so I started to take all these teaching jobs. Without a degree you couldn’t get a real job, so I just got visiting jobs. I first went to CalArts in 79 and I think at that point I realised I liked LA. I’ve been in Los Angeles for almost 22 years now.

(12 noon chart - time of birth not known.)

No wonder I've been cheering on every example of her slogans I've uploaded for display here! Ms Kruger's natal Sun is in the same degree of Aquarius as my own, and she, too, has Mercury in Capricorn. Socially aware, interested in communicating in a straighforward, no nonsense fashion! There the similarities end though.

Without a time of birth I cannot ascertain rising sign or exact Moon position, but whatever her time of birth Moon would be somewhere in the sign it rules - and possibly the most "female" of all the signs - Cancer, which I think clearly links to her connection with feminism.

There's a lovely Grand Trine in Air in her chart. Uranus in Gemini and Neptune in Libra link to each other in harmonious trine, and both link to her Aquarius Sun, and underline her Aquarian traits of slight eccentricity (Uranus ruler of Aquarius), and creativity (Neptune).

Many more examples can be seen at Google Image.

QUOTES of Barbara Kruger:

I think that every so-called history book and film biography should be prefaced by the statement that what follows is the author's rendition of events and circumstances.

Listen: our culture is saturated with irony whether we know it or not.

Look, we're all saddled with things that make us better or worse. This world is a crazy place, and I've chosen to make my work about that insanity.


James Higham said...

I wonder if there is any female artist who is not a feminist? Just asking.

Twilight said...

James ~~ They do seem to incline that way. There are a few who succeeded "on the coat tails" of a famous relative or associate who was male - they tend not to be overtly feminist, I think. Can't name any offhand, but I've noticed a few on my way through researches for the posts.

How about Grandma Moses ? :-)

I'm not much on feminism myself - at least not in today's world where the fight has (more or less) been won. I have the greatest respect for those who fought the good fight in the past on behalf of all females, present and future, though.

Wisewebwoman said...

Love her work, always have. As to your other commenter's question, I think female artists would not have been but for some strain of independence from the patriarchy coming as they were from both societal oppression and restraint and a dismissive attitude towards their female creativity (I only have to think of my mother).
Would make for a most interesting and long discussion.

Wisewebwoman said...

Oh and T I really truly believe we are regressing in feminist rights rather than moving forward. This is borne out by the continued attacks on Roe vs Wade in the states and the impoverishment of the females: particularly of single mothers, lack of basic maternal care, 60 million children on foodstamps, teenage pregnancies through the roof, lack of birth control with no funding for family planning and one of the highest rates of infant mortality in the world. Women are disposable in the US. You only have to look at Congress, Senate and the Supremes. Nearly all privileged old white men.

And my daughter and I were saying the other day that we see no young feminists. It is truly frightening.

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~ Thanks for your thoughts on this, rather thorny in some circles, topic. ;-)

My own feelings are based on a lifetime in the UK, and a working lifetime (or the majority of it) spent in the Employment Tribunals where I saw firsthand how female rights, employment-wise are very well-protected there.

I'm realising that, in the USA things are not as clear-cut.

James, the previous commenter is in the UK, so maybe his experiences are coloured by that fact. He and many other males are beginning to feel that the whole feminism thing is becoming "over-cooked", from the UK perspective anyway.

I do understand those feelings. some feminists can be annoying, WWW. They tend to harp and whine on every issue, and do themselves harm in the process. Present company excepted....I do mean that!

But then, there are individuals in every walk of life who can be annoying, so it's not surprising.

In the USA there's the Roe v Wade thing and evangelical "Christians" and their demands remain in the background noise all the time. That's not the case in the UK.

As with all reforms, racial and gender-related, it takes several generations for them to properly "gel" and become a natural part of life. The gelling process will take longer in some countries than others due to cultural differences.

As you say, it's an interesting topic, especially as it relates to women in the arts - where truly they should be predominant. But they're not, but they are catching up, slowly.