Artist Barbara Kruger combines found images with pithy captions in a distinctive agitprop style. Her work Untitled from 1981 still packs a punch. A woman’s profile with eyes averted, her neck squared into a statue suggests a classical image of female perfection. But before we can explore this any further it is the alternating blocks of text, typeset in Kruger’s trademark Futura Bold Oblique, that strike us: Your gaze hits the side of my face. The words are unequivocal and accusatory, challenging us to consider our role in the transaction of the gaze, to question our position of privilege, or otherwise.
As with advertising, and in its subversions by activists Adbusters, we can’t escape the interaction of image and text. They jostle for our attention, until meaning arises at the point of their convergence.
“I think what I’m trying to do is create moments of recognition. To try to detonate some kind of feeling or understanding of lived experience.” B.K.
Kruger’s work is well worth (re) investigating – a Google image search is an invigorating starting point.