Small Riots - Reviewing an artwork by Barbara Kruger

  • Amelie Bahr University College Maastricht
Keywords: art, neoliberalism, postmodernism, critique


To what extent can art still be subversive in the age of neoliberalism? Barbara Kruger’s “Untitled (The Meaning of Life is that it stops)“ shows that there is no easy answer to this question. My critical reading of the artwork examines the contrast between its visual appearance, congruent with advertisements in consumer societies, and its more earnest critique of their practices. Ultimately, I argue that Kruger seeks to do what any commercial seduction deliberately fails at: to press the viewer to make up their own mind, while admitting – in the spirit of postmodernism – that it is itself perhaps but another form of lure and persuasion, inevitably caught up in the system it sets out to oppose.