A display at the Serpentine will feature some of the American artist’s most well-known pieces repurposed as video works, including Untitled (I shop therefore I am) and Untitled (Your body is a battleground), alongside others to take over the entirety of the gallery’s southern hall.
Beyond the interior of the Kensington Gardens art space, the exhibition will feature installations on the Serpentine building, on black cabs across London, and on the large wrap-around screens of Outernet Arts near Tottenham Court Road station.
Kruger became known for art that inspects social and political concerns – though the artist insists her work is not “issue-specific” but an “ongoing commentary”.
Her 1989 piece Untitled (Your body is a battleground) stands out in her portfolio as it was created as a poster for the Women’s March on Washington over reproductive rights.
In a recent conversation Hans Ulrich, artistic director of the Serpentine, Kruger said her work remained relevant. “I think it’s a very free-floating statement about bodies also.”
“It can allude to men, women, non-binary people – it is important for us to realise that the only binaries that count now are digital binaries.”
Kruger said: “It would be great if my work became archaic, if the issues that they try to present, the commentary that I’m trying to suggest was no longer pertinent. Unfortunately, that is not the case at this point.”
The artist has appropriated her early work for video features in the exhibition. Her 1987 work Untitled (I shop therefore I am) is rendered as a broken jigsaw puzzle.
Once assembled, the original phrase is altered to read one of several new slogans, eg “I am therefore I hate” or “I sext therefore I am”.
Bettina Korek, CEO of Serpentine, said: “Serpentine is thrilled to present Barbara Kruger’s first institutional exhibition in London in more than 20 years. The show will extend beyond the gallery walls to engage Kensington Gardens and other sites around London.”
It will be the artist’s first solo institutional show in London in over 20 years and a return to Serpentine. Kruger previously exhibited at Serpentine in 1994 as part of the group exhibition Wall to Wall.
Barbara Kruger’s Thinking of
You. I Mean Me. I Mean You. is on display at The Serpentine in London until Sunday 17 March.