PRINT December 1997

Barbara Kruger

1 King of the Hill (Fox): Who knew Sunday night would be Fox night? Joining The Simpsons and X-Files is Mike Judge’s latest report on the State of the Nation. It’s funny, brave, ridiculous, and brutal when it has to be. Sharply written with terrific animation that hits just the right notes, it’s laughable, in the best sense of the word.

2 C-Span If there’s any other brave yet laughable stuff on TV, chances are you’ll find it on C-Span. And chances are it’ll also be dull, raucous, and scary, since C-Span can be all those things, which is what makes it so riveting. From literary discussions to journalistic debates to live coverage of demonstrations and symposia, C-Span delivers the info before it’s been sliced, diced, freeze-dried, and shrink-wrapped by the airheads who deliver the so-called news.

3 Rage/Wu-Tang/Atari Yeah, it was about music. But it was also about a lot of other stuff. Like race, power, boys becoming men, words as weapons, and different kinds of sonic messages. The Rage Against the Machine/Wu-Tang Clan/Atari Teenage Riot tour started off with great expectations and ended with a slightly different cast of characters, losing Wu-Tang for the final dates. But it was an event that challenged notions of taste and groupthink, and reminded us that the frightening power of every stereotype is its ability to contain a nanosecond of truth.

4 The Chrysler CCV Out of the dregs of mediocre American automobile design comes a bright idea from Chrysler. A little plastic number that promises to get people moving for cheap. The CCV—the Composite Concept Vehicle, intended for sale in “developing” countries—looks cute, clean, and lean and gets 50 MPG. How could this pert thing possibly survive on American roads increasingly dominated by hulking Land Rovers and Jeeps? Y’know, the ones driven by all those IMPORTANT people who are just so BUSY and who REALLY need four-wheel drive and for whom even a Humvee feels a bit cramped?

5 UNITE! And what is that yenta in the Range Rover wearing? Well, whatever it is, chances are it was made by a twelve-year-old. Unfortunately, that’s true with so much of what we all wear. And that’s where UNITE! (the Union of Needle Trades, Industrial, and Textile Employees) comes in. It has relentlessly campaigned to change the horrendous conditions that have been commonplace among the subcontractors of American apparel makers. How much were those Nikes?

6 Frank Gehry, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao I haven’t been there but it looks great in photos—an astounding building by a terrific artist. We need some of those here. Buildings that are visually powerful and user-friendly. And I’m not just talking museums. What about schools and hospitals and housing? Look at the skylines of American cities. The architect becomes this little nudnick playing catch-up with the client and the contractor. How pathetic. So much money, so few brains.

7 Chantal Akerman (Jewish Museum, New York): Akerman is like a private eye who goes public, always tracking the nuances, the feel of moments as they pass. In D’Est: Au bord de la fiction, the video installation organized by the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, she once again surveils the world of others, gathering evidence in a manner both astute and generous, in the hopes of setting something, whatever it is, free.

8 In the Company of Men (dir. by Neil LaBute): Neil LaBute’s smartly lean film cuts through the grease and tells it like it is. Short on visual style but long on powerful acting and scripting, it’s a compelling portrait of what we do to one another. But where did that last scene come from?

9 Sister Wendy Because she doesn’t have bad hair days. Because she speculates in ideas rather than cold cash. Because she never has to worry about what to wear. Because it’s so strange to hear someone take art so seriously. And because she’s married to a big shot.

10 Ita-Cho And how about a restaurant with no attitude? And no tablecloths? And no yucky “mood lighting”? It’s bright in here folks, and it’s all good. Ita-Cho is in a mini-mall on the corner of Highland and Santa Monica Boulevards. Next to the porno video place and the donut place. It’s about serious eating. It’s about deliciousness. It’s crowded and kind of sceney, but not too scary. It’s just the best.

Barbara Kruger is an artist who divides her time between Los Angeles and New York. In 1999 the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art will present a retrospective of her work.