Barbara Kruger Returns to London With "Thinking of You. I Mean Me. I Mean You."
Presented at the Serpentine Gallery from February 1 to March 17.
Renowned conceptual artist and collagist Barbara Kruger believes her work should speak for itself – allowing the viewer to materialize its meaning. Known for her pieces such as “I Shop Therefore I Am,” her prolific statements and imagery on consumption and class only ring more true today as the lines between online and offline identities blur.
Now, the artist returns to London, after 20 years, to present her work at Serpentine Gallery in an exhibition titled “Thinking of You. I Mean Me. I Mean You.” Combining archival, redesigned and new installations, the showcase offers a selection of moving image works and soundscapes as well as large-scale configurations on taxis and banners.
The exhibition will be open to the public from February 1 to March 17.
Below we chat with Bettina Korek, Serpentine CEO, about the show’s inspirations.
Kruger often centers ideas of consumption, both online and offline. How is her work evolving as mediums for consumption in our society change?
The first installation in the room has the replay video of “I Shop Therefore I Am” which comments on Descartes’ “I Think Therefore I Am.” There’s an idea that she introduced the increasing alignment with identity and consumption when she originally made the work and the replay breaks it down and reconstructs it. The work is in an echo chamber in the sense that it’s surrounded by a collage of reappropriations of her work that she’s found online.
She predicted a permeating culture of consumption back in the ’80s – back then consumption was in the background, now, it’s in the foreground. That’s what is so exciting about this show, the idea of anti-retrospection, because when she’s looking back, it is looking at a time when consumption was more straightforward. It relies on the viewer to complete the work and to answer that question for themselves.
The concept of “Post-gender, post-identity, post-race and post-human,” is explored in this exhibition. What was the inspiration behind that?
Barbara always says that she wants to work this to speak for itself. When she made “Your Body is A Battleground,” for example, the key visual feature of that is division. It’s one of the rare works she made for a specific event for the Women’s March in 1989. As the context evolves, it’s taken on different meanings. She decodes how issues of power and gender manifests through the constructs of language. So, however those words continue to morph and evolve in the way we use them in culture, her work will continue to be an important provocation; encouraging people to think and reflect.
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Why was it the time right for Kruger to return to London and showcase her work, both new and archival?
This show started a long time ago, in 2016 at the Art Institute of Chicago. Barbara has continued to update the show and we’re just so pleased to have this evolution of it. The exhibition focuses on the replays and [redirection] to her iconic artworks and it’s more precious than ever. We’re thrilled to be starting the year and welcoming people to her show. The most important thing for us is that people come to experience the [full] landscape, the show, the taxis, the TikTok filter and the wraparound screens at Outernet Arts.