Barbara Kruger asks provocative questions of LA residents as Frieze lands

Spanning hundreds of banners, the public art project is a continuation of her Untitled (Questions) series, in her trademark bold and graphic type, that invites Los Angeles to think big.

Date
13 February 2020
Reading Time
2 minute read

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It’s Frieze week in Los Angeles and while most of the fair’s exhibitors are prepping for its official opening tomorrow (until Sunday), Barbara Kruger’s exhibit has been posing its massive questions to residents all week. The 75-year-old artist, known for her inventive ways of getting her message to the general public, has added 20 new pieces to her ongoing series titled Untitled (Questions), which are plastered in giant, all caps type (Helvetica Ultra Condensed) on hundreds of banners around the city.

The public art project asks passers-by “Who do you think you are?” “Is there life without pain?” “Who buys the con?” and more big questions, which feature on hundreds of street banners, digital billboards, lightboxes and murals. This is a scale up from last year, when Kruger made stickers with similarly philosophical questions, to stick around the city. Frieze says this year’s iteration brings the artist’s provocations/interrogations, which are “indeterminate and open to subjective interpretation” into physical proximity with the public.

“This project trusts that in an age of distraction, people still pay attention,” says Frieze LA’s executive director Bettina Korek. “It’s quintessential how her choice of words balances directness and ambiguity, how they invite a viewer to read into what is being asked as well as what isn’t.”

In contrast to that statement, however, Kruger told Artnet she suspects the average person won’t even notice them: “Most people in the country don’t know the name of one artist...People are deluded to think that the visual arts have any real mainstream currency!”

Even so, the sheer scale and in-your-face nature of the artworks is sure to garner attention and provoke reaction, IRL and online, as the west coast’s art crowd descend for the fair’s second outing after launching in 2019.

Frieze Los Angeles opens at Paramount Pictures Studios from 14-16 February 2020.

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Barbara Kruger: Untitled (Questions) at Frieze LA 2019. Photo courtesy of Mark Blower and Frieze.

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Barbar Kruger: Untitled (Questions) at NeueHouse, Los Angeles, for Frieze LA 2020. Photo Fredrik Nilsen.

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About the Author

Jenny Brewer

Jenny joined the editorial team as It’s Nice That’s first news editor in April 2016. Having studied 3D Design, she has spent the last ten years working in design journalism. Contact her with news stories relating to the creative industries on news@itsnicethat.com.

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