barbara kruger: between being born and dying lever house art collection, new york sep 19 –  nov 21, 2009

between being born and dying is the latest installation from the artist barbara kruger. the piece covers all of the lever house’s windows, both inside and out, in addition to the floor. kruger creates phrases that emote situations, interactions using letters, many as high as seventeen feet.

‘I think what i’m trying to do is create moments of recognition. to try to detonate some kind of feeling or understanding of lived experience. I try to deal with the complexities of power and social life, but as far as the visual presentation goes I purposely avoid a high degree of difficulty‘. barbara kruger

barbara kruger: between being born and dying

following text from richard d. marshall, curator:

‘borrowing from mass media’s high-volume graphic punch, her black-and-white text questions the viewer about power, gender roles, social relationships, political issues, consumerism, and individual autonomy and desire. the exterior surfaces announce, ‘know nothing, forget everything, believe anything’,

barbara kruger: between being born and dying

‘plenty should be enough’ and ‘in violence we forget who we are’ (a quote from mary mccarthy).  on the interior walls, reading clockwise, she continues with the declarative phrases, ‘if it screams, shove it, ‘if it vomits, starve it’…   barbara kruger: between being born and dying

‘the pronounced verticality of the helvetica ultra-condensed typeface accentuates the vertical thrust of the window mullions, the mass of the skyscraper, and the erect stainless steel columns.’  

barbara kruger: between being born and dying

on these columns, kruger has applied phrases that read vertically rather than horizontally and that complicate their readability:  ‘the globe shrinks for those that own it’ and ‘between being born and dying.’

barbara kruger: between being born and dying

kruger completes the total transformation of the lobby space by covering the floor with sentences that read from opposite directions:  ‘you make history when you do business’ and ‘a rich man’s jokes are always funny.’

photographs by jesse david harris   via design notes