Today, I went, with a friend, to Barbara Kruger’s exhibit at the Hirshhorn Musuem here in D.C. It is located at the bottom of the museum’s escalators and fills the entire lower lobby. The exhibit is comprised solely of words and phrases: “MONEY MAKES MONEY,” “WHOSE POWER?” “WHOSE VALUES?” “WHOSE BELIEFS?,” etc., plastered on the floor, the ceiling, the walls, and the sides and undersides of the up and down escalators. The print is very clear, but some of it is so large that you must walk along it, reading slowly, concentrating on each letter as you go, sounding out the words in order to comprehend the phrase. Much of it is clever, but even where the phrases reflect well-worn thoughts, for example, about our consumer society (eg. “you want it, you buy it, you forget it”), the manner of display forces you to take it in slowly, focus, concentrate and think about the meaning rather than quickly pass it off as slogan and move on. Some, like “BELIEF + DOUBT = SANITY,” seem particularly appropriate for this time of extreme views and little tolerance. Clearly, the exhibit is political, or at least, consisting of social commentary. But is this print a visual art? Or prose? Or both?
Whatever it is, it is impressive, and I encourage any who find themselves in my city to take a look. And if you do, let me know what you think, and why.
Posted by Jessie Seigel at 10:07 p.m.