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Barbara Kruger: Part of the Discourse | Art21 “Extended Play”

August 21, 2019

[“Barbara Kruger: Part of the Discourse”] How come any piece of canvas
with pigment on it gets to be called art? There are so many ways of making art, some of them more available
to a general public than others. I remember going to galleries
when I was young– totally intimidated! Certain works have to be decoded. I think the availability of my work
was important to me, because I was that viewer
who didn’t understand– who didn’t know the codes. Performa approached me, and the skatepark came up in conversation. I just go, “Oh that would be so cool.” “Money talks.” “Whose values?” These are just ideas in the air, and questions that we ask sometimes– and questions that we don’t ask
but should ask. I grew up in Newark, New Jersey. My mother and my father, neither of them have college degrees. We lived in a three-room apartment and I slept in the living room. I was always very aware of how
where we’re born, what we are given,
and what is withheld from us determines who we can be in the world. I came to New York. Went to Parson’s for a year. Started working as a billing clerk and then a telephone operator. Living in Newark and later New York, maybe you didn’t read the tabloids
but you saw them everyday in the subway and everywhere. All of a sudden,
I heard there were jobs at Condé Nast. I was lucky– I got hired as a second designer. If you didn’t get people
to look at those pages, you were fired. Cropping pictures. Choosing fonts. When I first started I thought,
“Oh I want to be art director,” but it was a different world. I was like a chimney sweep
compared to the other people who worked there. I really took time off and tried to figure out
what it might mean to call myself an artist. I remember saying to people, “Can I just be an artist by working with
pasteup and magic marker?” “No, you can’t do that.” I realized I could use the fluencies
as a designer to make my work. I like fonts that cut through the grease– the, sort of, clarity
of those sans serif fonts. I felt that red capture one’s attention. In most cases, I could not afford to
print these images in color. I used to go to used bookstores
and find old magazines, and I converted them to black and white. For us, in 1981, ’83, showing your work was about
being a part of the discourse. When my peer group first started being discussed, and our work was being sold, I thought, “Well if my work is developing
this commodity status, I had to address it.” Issues about power, value, unfortunately do not grow old. Architecture is my first love. I just spatialize ideas. I know what areas to engage to activate a space
with images and with text. “Think like us.” “Hate like us.”
“Fear like us.” I want my work to create commentary. [PROTESTOR]
–Right to life, your name’s a lie, –you don’t care if women die. [KRUGER] I made “Your body is a battleground”
to get people to go to the march. This was for women’s reproductive rights. I remember calling Planned Parenthood
and offering my services, and they didn’t know who the eff I was. They said, well they were
working with an advertising agency. Oh okay, alright. So I used this printer named Quirky. I used to print all these posters with him. I went out at one or two in the morning and put these posters up all over town. Well, of course I’m a feminist. But I have never been able to consider
gender or sexuality apart from class– and never thought of class apart from race. Something to really think about is what makes us who we are
in the world that we live in, and how culture constructs and contains us. There are stereotypes of the artist or of the musician. Those are the kinder stereotypes. People ask me all the time,
can they come to my studio? And I say, do you want me to put a beret on and you can photograph me with a big table? I said, no–
no. I just don’t want to be that person. There’s enough visual record of me. You don’t need a million pictures. What it means
to point a camera at another person, I think that there’s a brutality about that. “You.” “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.” It’s a Virginia Woolf quote. I just had to use that.


  • Reply Carolina Carpenter January 26, 2018 at 4:16 am

    I love You!

  • Reply Richard Montoya February 3, 2018 at 4:08 am

    video well done. you are a big influence in my work as a conceptual word artist. thank u.

  • Reply Mariana Marcondes April 9, 2018 at 8:33 pm

    Could you give the credits of the subtiltes? I translated this into Portuguese.

  • Reply Not a real person May 9, 2018 at 2:53 pm

    “What a ridiculous clusterfuck of totally uncool jokers. I make my work about this kind of sadly foolish farce. I'm waiting for all of them to sue me for copyright infringement. “ Barbara Kruger on SUPREME .

  • Reply ___ June 5, 2018 at 3:44 pm

    Barbara Kruger got jacked by Supreme.

  • Reply clover grass December 24, 2018 at 12:20 am

    Looks to me like just more degenerate jewish "art."

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