Barbara Kruger: Thinking of You. I Mean Me. I Mean You. at the Serpentine Gallery

14.02.2024
Matthew Freddura

Barbara Kruger: Thinking of You. I Mean Me. I Mean You. at the Serpentine Gallery

14.02.2024
Matthew Freddura

Barbara Kruger’s new exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery is a compelling exploration of power dynamics, gender, and identity politics through the lens of late capitalist consumerism. The exhibition offers a thought-provoking journey into Kruger’s consistent ethos through various mediums and moments from her career.

Kruger’s deliberate approach to engaging with spaces is evident from the entrance area, where snippets of her voice beckoning ‘hello, I love you’ welcome visitors amidst a cacophony of recorded audio. While the exhibition predominantly showcases earlier works, updates reflect the present moment, aligning with Kruger’s aim to ‘look forward, look back, and be in the present.’

Collages adorning the gallery walls feature magazine images and memes accentuated by her signature Futura bold typeface, with a commanding video screen displaying her iconic 1987 piece, ‘I shop therefore I am’ critiquing consumer culture. Kruger’s background in graphic design, particularly her work at Condé Nast, is apparent in her adeptness at blending pictures and words, as seen in her seminal 1989 piece, ‘your body is a battleground’, which remains relevant amidst ongoing battles for reproductive rights.

Throughout the exhibition, viewers encounter satirical phrases scrolling down walls and launching from screens, underscoring Kruger’s evolving social commentary. Described as an ‘anti-retrospective’, the exhibition prompts reflection on persistent societal issues despite the changing times.

While the familiarity of Kruger’s style may mean that its poignance is less impactful for some viewers, her astute commentary and distinct visual language offer a compelling lens. In accessible formats, this exhibition invites visitors to contemplate the endurance of the societal issues Kruger has spent her career challenging.

Barbara Kruger: Thinking of You. I Mean Me. I Mean You at the Serpentine South Gallery, London. Until 17 March.