Barbara Kruger, Your Body is a Battleground
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Barbara Kruger explores feminist theory through artistic expression. Her continued use of black and white imagery combined with red blocks of text derive from her background in art and design and her previous careers designing and editing magazines such as Mademoiselle and House and Garden. Kruger voices her concerns over feminist issues through bold images and text and in consequence, she is able to gain the viewer’s attention in a manner that differs from that of many other artists. This paper discusses patriarchal values, discourses of the gaze, and the crises in consumerism in relation to Kruger’s work. The problematic social norms that arise from patriarchy are exposed through her designs. In much of Kruger’s work, she reveals concepts with such an impact that the viewer is forced to further consider her or his own opinions and perceptions in relation to these issues. Kruger also works with the subject of the gaze and its relation to male power. Through the gaze, men are able to gain control over the bodies of women, creating a tension between the two sexes. Kruger ties this to a critique of consumerism, in that everything in Euro-American culture can be bought, sold, and owned. This ideology extends to relationships amongst individuals further causing struggles over control and power.