We Are Not What We Seem

Kruger barbara we are not what we seem 1988 foto sybls

Barbara Kruger

1988

Collage, 276 x 243 cm.
Materials: screen print, vinyl, chassis

Collection: Collection M HKA, Antwerp / Collection Flemish Community (Inv. no. BK5859_M99).

We Are Not What We Seem refers both to the photo itself as to the broader social context. No image exists that can be interpreted without ambiguity. Is this woman holding a magnifying glass in her hand, is she taking a contact lens out of her eye? Nothing is what it seems at first sight. Illusion and reality are intertwined and merge into one another. The montage is deliberately made clearly visible. The veracity of photography and the deceptive language of the mass media are being questioned here. Kruger formulates her message as an urgent appeal in red, black and white. The combination of typographical messages and black and white photography makes her work easily recognisable. Her work acts as a constant critical questioning addressed to the viewer. Using an accusatory ‘you’ or ‘we’ she invites identification from the viewer and then summons up resistance. She thereby makes the viewer conscious of the fact that the meaning of the images are dictated by the media and she tries to run down the media’s power regarding the way viewer’s thoughts.

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