– Spring/Summer 2002

Peasant Uprisings in Seventeenth-Century France, Russia and China

Liam Gillick

Tags: Barbara Kruger

Can we re-stick processes as they come apart, as they appear to signify increasingly free-floating semi-autonomous art worlds of reference, nostalgia and on-going critique?1 There is always the text. At the beginning it sat up front, floating strongly on a sea of ambiguity made of images that seemed to be just enough to make a point. It was a kind of Futura Extra Bold. It shouts in a stumpy, not quite elegant way. Futura, or something quite similar to it. The thing is that wide, short fonts read straight and tend to render things into a graphic consistency that is always accentuated by the use of italics. Italics - the great and currently impossible-to-use type dynamic. We have gone straight, no longer leaning to the right in an ironic counter-point to progressive thinking. Italics don't shout in the age of email and text messaging, CAPITALS SHOUT. Italics are just used for the titles of artworks, the leant shape insisted upon by stiffened copy-editors, especially in a North American context. There is still a use for italics but we are told not to use them too much or incorrectly. There was a time when they were modern and post-punk. When they made a point and pushed us to think and move forward and make some fast and still important statements.

When Barbara Kruger's works first seemed to consolidate and unify into a precise sequence of niggling statements they also seemed quite chic. They were subtly different from the recent history of cut-up and punk; it was easier to see the nodded connection and absolutely crucial to understanding the way they moved issues on

  1. The original title of this essay was 'Peasant Uprisings in Seventeenth-Century France, Russia and China. Barbara Kruger and the De-lamination of Signs'.

  2. Carol Squiers, 'Diversionary (Syn)tactics: Barbara Kruger Has Her Way with Words', in Art News, February 1987