Critics’ Picks

View of “Barbara Kruger,” 2014.


Barbara Kruger

Modern Art Oxford
30 Pembroke Street
June 28 - August 31

With her characteristic font splashed across Modern Art Oxford, Barbara Kruger asks “IS THAT ALL THERE IS?” in her latest exhibition, which consists of a new installation, two video projects, and highlights of her early photocollages. This quandary is as pertinent to the level of critical discourse surrounding her career as it is to the fiber of that individual work. Despite her complicated output, Kruger’s practice often becomes buried under truisms of the Pictures generation—the male gaze, consumer culture, and appropriation. This exhibition of Kruger’s work adroitly proves that her output exceeds such truisms by allowing for an intimate and complex venue for viewing the breadth of her practice.

That Kruger has cited architecture as a major influence should not be disregarded when viewing these works. A variety of green and black words pointing to classes of people—intellectuals, survivors, artists, lovers—covers the gallery’s blistering brick walls from floor to ceiling. This massive spatial overload is followed by a presentation of Kruger’s photocollages. From time to time, pasted words might be slightly mismatched, some even coming over the paper’s edge, creating embodied spaces rather than purely linguistic ones. Similarly, Kruger’s videos Twelve, 2004, and Plenty LA, 2008, comment on the absurdities of human interconnectivity by capitalizing on the gallery space as a medium. Kruger projects Plenty LA onto the corner of a wall, for example, so that the video appears to ebb and flow in space. As this exhibition makes clear, to look outside simplified postmodern frameworks is to approach innovative and unexpected analytical spaces.