“Barbara Kruger: Thinking of You. I Mean Me. I Mean You” is the largest US exhibition in 20 years of Los Angeles-based, artist, Barbara Kruger. Curated at LACMA by Michael Govan, CEO and Wallis Annenberg Director, and Rebecca Morse, Curator, Wallis Annenberg Photography Department, the exhibition occupies the entirety of BCAM, Level 2 and includes vinyl works, full room installations, single-channel videos, large-scale LED videos and audio soundscapes throughout LACMA’s campus.

Curator, Rebecca Morse tells us to think of this exhibition not as a retrospective, but rather an anti-retrospective, with each gallery arranged schematically, not chronologically. I enjoyed seeing Kruger’s traditional works as well as her new video and audio installations. It was fun going from gallery to gallery to experience each part of the exhibition; a rare treat to excite the senses. I find her work to be provocative, challenging, engaging, humorous, witty and always compelling and impactful.

Installation photograph, “Barbara Kruger: Thinking of You. I Mean Me. I Mean You”, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, March 20, 2022–July 17, 2022; photo © Museum Associates/LACMA

Starting in the first gallery at the BCAM, Level 2, is a digital installation where Kruger has actually appropriated people who have appropriated her. These new video works re-imagine her most iconic vinyl pieces. Untitled (I Shop Therefore I am) (1987/2018) image shown above, is a reworking of Kruger’s piece from the late 1980s and reframing it as a single channel video on an LED panel. In this one-minute loop Kruger animates the original as a puzzle that assembles itself and presents new phrases including “I Need Therefore I Shop” and “I Love Therefore I Need” among others. I love how she creates something new from her first work, and gives a new meaning, structure, motion and sound.

One of Kruger‘s new works, Untitled (Selfie) (2021) is vinyl text installed on two facing walls. On one side are the words “I Hate Myself and You Love Me For It” and on the opposing walls are the words “I Love Myself and You Hate Me For It.” The phrasing originally comes from Kruger’s cover design for the May 1992 issue of Esquire in which Kruger wrote an article about the ground-breaking broadcaster Howard Stern. In this piece, visitors can pose before each wall to take a selfie; at the same time, with their consent, their image will be transmitted by a live feed to another area of the museum.

Barbara Kruger, Untitled (Forever), 2017, digital print on vinyl wallpaper and floor covering, dimensions variable, Amorepacific Museum of Art (APMA), Seoul, installation view, Sprüth Magers, Berlin, 2017-18; photo by Timo Ohler, courtesy of the artist and Sprüth Magers

Untitled (Forever) (2017) A large, immersive room composed of vinyl images and text on all four walls and the floor. YOU is on each of the rooms facing walls and continues with an excerpt from A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf to say “YOU know that women have served all these centuries as looking glasses possessing the magic and delicious power of reflecting the figure of men at twice its natural size. “ I enjoy that the exclamation point contains the authors name. Stepping into this gallery of giant type almost enveloping us, makes us feel the power of the message.

These are just a few highlights from the exhibition. There is so much more to explore!

“Barbara Kruger: Thinking of You. I Mean Me. I Mean You.” is on view through July 17, 2022; LACMA, 5905 Wilshire Blvd., LA 90036; https://www.lacma.org/