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Barbara Kruger at LACMA

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If you don’t know Barbara Kruger by name, you likely know her aesthetic. Kruger’s impact on visual culture has been vast, and the first room in her 20-year retrospective at LACMA — featuring collaged images of posters, campaigns, and T-shirts that crib her aesthetic (the Streetwear brand Supreme is one of the most notable examples) — nods to the constant appropriation of her work. 

Another gallery is wallpapered with black and white text that riffs on war, gender, and mortality. One installation, in which mirroring walls covered with floor-to-ceiling vinyl read “I LOVE MYSELF AND YOU HATE ME FOR IT” and “I HATE MYSELF AND YOU LOVE ME FOR IT,” employ live surveillance cameras that follow you as you walk into the space. Only later do you realize that that footage is being streamed on a small monitor near the gallery’s exit. 

While displays of iconic Krugerisms like “Your Body is a Battleground” feel particularly pertinent today, the exhibition also shows Kruger expanding her repertoire to cite and reference contemporary culture (cat videos, Kendrik Lamar lyrics, and Trump references make appearances). The exhibition highlights the complex terrain between consumerism, gender, bodies, identity, religion, and politics that Kruger continues to mine.

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Photo: Barbara Kruger, Barbara Kruger: Thinking of You. I Mean Me. I Mean You. (Installation view) (2022). © Museum Associates/LACMA. Image courtesy of the artist and LACMA.