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 is created by American conceptual artist and designer Barbara Kruger who often places her critical messages on sexual, social, and political issues inside the alluring and familiar formats of commercial visual languages.  

The artwork presents an image of an emancipating woman who is ready to fight for the perception of herself in others’ eyes. Despite the laconic poster form of the piece, the message written in the collage remains unclear: whom is she defending except herself: who are ‘we’? How are ‘they’ seen and how should ‘they’ be seen? Is the viewer a part of ‘them’ or is the viewer in the confronted position of referent?

The ambiguity of senses collapses in the simplicity of the media chosen by the artist. Now the responsibility of the self-identification and positioning in the conflict is on the viewer. Living in the era of fake news and constant media manipulation it seems like there is no way to surrender to digital nonsense consuming everyone inside and constant critical analysis could be one of the resistant tools.

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