Barbara Kruger Performa 17 Commission, a site-specific installation titled Untitled (Skate) at Coleman Skatepark in New York City is detailed in a new film that shows the installation process and how skateboarders related with the artworks. Image: Performa
NEW YORK, NY— Art21 has announced a new film featuring Barbara Kruger’s Performa 17 Commission. Titled Untitled (Skate), the site-specific installation at Coleman Skatepark in New York City’s Lower East Side includes a group of skaters and Kruger’s works from multiple solo exhibitions at Mary Boone Gallery; and FOREVER, a 2017 site-specific exhibition at Sprüth Magers Berlin, amongst others.
For the Performa 17 Commission, Kruger traveled across New York City broadcasting messages addressing issues of power, desire, adoration, contempt, and capital. The messages were on a billboard in Chelsea, on MetroCards distributed across four subway stations, on a yellow school bus, in a storefront shop in SoHo, and in one of New York’s most popular skate park underneath the Manhattan Bridge.
In explaining the origin of her Performa 17 Commission, Untitled (Skate) project, Kruger went back in time to her earliest influences and what led her to become an artist. She examines her life growing up in a working-class family in Newark, New Jersey before landing a job as a designer for Condé Nast publications. She explained how her design experience lent a fluency and directness to the development of her text-driven work. The experience of how people are influenced and shaped by the things they see around them are major factors that influenced Barbara Kruger’s works. With an amazing design sensibility, she wondered how she could use the medium of advertising to subvert the idea of advertising itself.
Using the advertising techniques to engage viewers is at the core of Barbara Kruger’s Performa 17 Commission project. While explaining what influenced Untitled (Skate) Kruger interrogates the power of money, elucidating how it shapes and inform societal values. Quoting some of the panels installed in the skatepark she asks: “Money talks. Whose values?” She continues, “These are just ideas in the air and questions that we ask sometimes—and questions that we don’t ask but should ask.”
This new film shows how Barbara Kruger continues to use the visual language of advertising to confront social and political issues, including subverting the very messages it emulates. Kruger’s messages are not just direct in their communication with viewers, in some instances, they encourage them to engage in discussions of global issues including how consumerism and power affect their daily lives. For Barbara Kruger “Something to really think about is what makes us who we are in the world that we live in.” Above all, she wants viewers of her work to question everything they encounter “And how culture constructs and contains us.”
Well known across the globe for her work, Barbara Kruger explores media effects and strategies to create her own political and social messages around consumerism, mass media, and feminism on billboards, buses, newspapers, buildings, and parks for the past four decades. Her instantly recognizable visual style of delivering thought-provoking and terse phrases in white Futura Bold font over red blocks has influenced visual artists, graphic design, mass media, and high fashion streetwear who are now appropriating her style.