The work is a critique of the structures of power and the role of culture in a Capitalist consumerist society. The limited edition vase for created for Performa’s very first Telethon in November 2020.

Performa’s curator Kathy Noble worked with Powerhouse Arts Director of Ceramic Biata Roytburd and Eleni Kontos to create Barbara Kruger’s first vase with the words CULTURE and NATURE in black and blue in Kruger’s signature Futura Bold typeface style from the 1980s. These pieces were slipcast and underwent a finishing process, glazed in a bright white glaze, and finally adorned with silk screened decals.

The first edition was finished in August. Proceeds of the sale benefit Perforrma, the internationally acclaimed organization dedicated to live interdisciplinary performance by visual artists.

About the artist:
Barbara Kruger was born in Newark, New Jersey, in 1945. After attending Syracuse University, the School of Visual Arts, and studying art and design with Diane Arbus at Parson’s School of Design in New York, Kruger obtained a design job at Condé Nast Publications. Working for Mademoiselle Magazine, she was quickly promoted to head designer. Later, she worked as a graphic designer, art director, and picture editor in the art departments at House and Garden, Aperture, and other publications. This background in design is evident in the work for which she is now internationally renowned.

She layers found photographs from existing sources with pithy and aggressive text that involves the viewer in the struggle for power and control that her captions speak to. In their trademark black letters against a slash of red background, some of her instantly recognizable slogans read “I shop therefore I am,” and “Your body is a battleground.“ Much of her text questions the viewer about feminism, classicism, consumerism, and individual autonomy and desire, although her black-and-white images are culled from the mainstream magazines that sell the very ideas she is disputing.

As well as appearing in museums and galleries worldwide, Kruger’s work has appeared on billboards, buscards, posters, a public park, a train station platform in Strasbourg, France, and in other public commissions. She has taught at the California Institute of Art, The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and the University of California, Berkeley. She lives in New York and Los Angeles.

About Performa:
Founded in 2004 by art historian and curator RoseLee Goldberg, Performa has expanded the possibilities for visual artists working in performance, providing essential curatorial and production support, and, with its dedicated biennial, providing a worldwide platform for performance of the 21st century. Performa Commissions have entirely changed the possibilities of the form and its educational programs have shown its rich history as an integral part of artistic practice, reaching back through the centuries to the Renaissance. This visionary organization has entirely transformed every art institution’s approach to visual art performance, now a staple in art museums and galleries throughout the world. Since 2005, Performa has presented eight editions of its three-week international Performa Biennial that have animated every borough of New York City every other year.

The vases are available for purchase at Performa’s Store.

Barbara Kruger’s exhibition Barbara Kruger: Thinking of You. I Mean Me is currently on view at LACMA.