For more than 40 years, American artist Barbara Kruger has been a consistent, critical observer of the ways that images circulate through our culture.
Combining images with provocative text, Kruger uses direct address—along with humor, vigilance, and empathy—to expose and undermine the power dynamics of identity, desire, and consumerism. As shrinking attention spans collide with the voyeurism and narcissism that define contemporary life, her immersive installations and widely circulated pictures and words invite us to reconsider how we relate to one another.
THINKING OF YOU. I MEAN ME. I MEAN YOU. encompasses the full breadth of her career—from early and rarely seen “pasteups” (works that use an analog technique for physically arranging a page’s contents with manual “cut and paste”) to digital productions of the last two decades. The presentation includes works on vinyl, site-specific installations, animations, and multichannel video installations.
The exhibition is not, however, a retrospective. Challenging notions of career building and a strict chronology, Kruger has reenvisioned the retrospective itself by rethinking, remaking, and replaying her work over the decades for the constantly moving present.
The exhibition at the Art Institute—collaboratively designed with the artist—interrogates the specific cultural context of our museum, as it transcends the traditional exhibition space and extends into the museum’s public spaces and the city beyond. Kruger’s work not only fills the entirety of the museum’s largest exhibition space, the 18,000 square-foot Regenstein Hall, but also occupies Griffin Court—an 8,000-square-foot atrium running the length of the Modern Wing—with new site-specific work. Kruger’s text and images address both the architecture and relational spaces throughout the museum—from the windows in the historic Michigan Avenue building and the Modern Wing to various public spaces, some of which will also feature an ambient soundscape. Kruger will additionally engage the surrounding cityscape, creating work for billboards, the Chicago Transit Authority, and Art on the Mart, among other locations and organizations.
This exhibition is organized by the Art Institute of Chicago, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and The Museum of Modern Art, New York.