Barbara Kruger

  • Earwig

    Columbus is a college town. So you’re thinking zillions of groovy coffeehouses, great bookstores, and cheap but tasty “ethnic” restaurants, right? Well forget it. Because Columbus isn’t that kind of college town. This isn’t some fancy-schmantzy private school oozing with precious dollops of aestheticized sensitivity. No sirree. This is Ohio State University: a huge, football-crazy, heartland kind of place. A place removed from the mallish and tallish buildings downtown and the trendyish cafes and tchotchke shops of the Short North. A place where the main drag, North High Street, is littered with

  • Galaxie 500

    So, a few years ago I’m at Wasteland in LA and I hear this fantastic music: sort of a dense mix of trance, overripe pop, sonic hooks, and incompetence. Yum. I ask the deeply cool cashier, “What’s playing?” He replies, numbly, “GALAXIE 500.” Oh, okay. So I’m thinking, I’ve got to get some of this stuff. Forget it. You can’t get it anywhere, because Galaxie 500 were already out of business. They were history, and their sounds had entered the fetish phase of the alt. music universe: a rare and pricey cult product. But one morning, in a tiny London record store, my search is rewarded. Sure enough,

  • Word Up!

    I’VE BEEN ASKED to comment on art magazines but my mind keeps wandering toward other things: like magazines in general, and how the commentary that fills them feeds both cultures and subcultures, how they jump-start ideas, how they drench us in taste, how they work an angle, how temporal they are, how soon their current divinities become yesterday’s papers. But I also start thinking about commentary in general, including this comment which you are now reading, or the other comments filling this magazine, or the commentary implicit or explicit in the art and ideas being commented on, and how all

  • Courtroom Drama

    IF THERE’S ONE THING that can barely escape anyone who has ever visited a court of law, it is that the term “courtroom drama” is no mere figure of speech. Legal procedures ore indeed dramas: protracted narratives, perhaps less seamlessly continuous than their novelistic, theatrical, cinematic, and video kin, but nonetheless rife with twists and turns and performances that either hit or miss. This performative aspect, this attempt to recreate moments through storying, tests the acting abilities of defendants, plaintiffs, judges, witnesses, and lawyers alike. But most often it is the attorney’s

  • Television

    WHO IS THIS GUY? What is this guy? Glistening hair floats over a militantly loosened collar stuffed into a shiny, expensive, ill-fitting suit. The camera closes in on a familiar face. This guy is taking advantage of just about the only airtime he’s had this year. Aside from brief sightings on Wiseguy, the Labor Day Telethon is it for Jerry Lewis. Ordinarily, to get this much attention he’d have to schlep to Paris. You see, in France Jerry Lewis is considered a genius. This last sentence is the funniest thing that ever happened anywhere near Jerry Lewis, which is disappointing since he’s supposed

  • Television

    TV IS A TOOL. But unlike computers and chain saws, there are no directions as to its use; no howtos, no recipes. You never forget how to use TV because you never have to learn how. Like any other relationship, it seems you just sort of “get along” with this chatty appliance; you “do” it, it “does” you. We “do” TV by letting its juices flow. Not flesh-and-blood juices, of course, but continuously acrid signals, impulses that flow from its artificial circuitry to our own. Like humans, television is sensitive to our touch. We flick a knob on its chassis and it performs for us. We know how to push

  • Television

    . . . You remember that expression, “get the lead out”? It’s almost out, almost gone. Clean water? I’m for clean water . . . I’ve been an outdoorsman and a sportsman all my life. I’ve been to these national parks . . . So I’ll just keep saying I am one . . . I am an environmentalist. I believe in our parks. I believe in the President’s commission on outdoors. And I’ll do a good job, because I am committed.

    —George Bush, 1988 Presidential Debate

    STUPIDITY FASCINATES. It is forthright. It is never self-conscious. It never listens. It says what it means and means what it says. Giving all it’s

  • Television

    CRANK UP THE OLD democracy machine, it’s election time again. Oil its rusty spokes, resuscitate its finicky engine, and push it into the center ring, into the circus of symbolic antiquities that serve as a front for the motors of power running the show. And what a show it is! Everything is designed and constructed around a calculated frenzy of posing, polling, and Q&A. It was the notion of the vote that laid the groundwork for the development of the mass media, and accordingly they reach their crescendo of fictive consensus through the elaborate entertainments of electoral politics. Opinion is

  • Raul Ruiz, Mammame

    It’s always been pretty obvious that Raul Ruiz has a terrific eye, and perhaps less acknowledged that he has a great mouth. All his films (and that’s a lot) are marked by virtuoso verbal eruptions, a scripting that skids from aphorism to sophism to humorism. This is most apparent in Roof of the Whale, 1982, where he is freed from his crush on avant-garde linguistic turns and self-congratulatory dazzle and constructs a work that is at once gorgeous, grim, and gigantically giggly. So it is with much curiosity that we approach Mammame, 1986. Here is Ruiz without words, Ruiz and the document, Ruiz

  • Television

    WHEN THERE’S NOT much else to say, people talk about the weather. And the way the network affiliates litter their news broadcasts with meteorological bombast, you’d think little else was happening in the world aside from a bit of low pressure blowing in from Canada. Just as the news is reported as a series of gestures framed and inflated into “events,” so each swirl of climatic activity, each swell of sunshine or rain, is pumped up into something really big—big enough, that is, to spew dozens of adjectives and sell lots of hyperbolic airtime.

    In New York the affiliates sport old favorites, voices

  • Television

    WHETHER THE NEWS is good or bad, whether it's sunny or sleeting outside, regardless of the conditions of their domestic milieu, morning-TV viewers remain privy to a tableau of faux-lived-in midbrow cheer: burnished orange rooms abloom with botany and padded with pillows. These implacable interiors are invariably graced with quaintly paned picture windows which appear to look out into the world. But if we look carefully we might notice that these are not rooms with a view but rather trompe-television-l'oeil, rendered in the same stunned casualness of the interiors. The stunned casualness of the

  • INTO THIN AIR

    LOST IN SPACE SOMEWHERE BETWEEN “Close to You” and “Long ago and oh so far away,” Karen Carpenter’s voice throbs with romantic duress in a trilling vocal package. Along with her brother, Richard, she constituted the Carpenters, whose excruciatingly clean-cut musical embroideries provided a score for the early ’70s. That time teetered on the cusp of political rebellion but still wanted out from the rowdy negativities of the preceding decade, and looked vehemently to a phantasm of values and histories that never existed—a phantasm that was, in part, choreographed by America’s first and last