Barbara Kruger
[Artist, b. 1945, Newark, New Jersey, lives in New York.]

 I want to speak, show, see, and hear outrageously astute questions and comments. I want to be on the sides of pleasure and laughter and to disrupt the dour certainties of pictures, property, and power. 
 I see my work as a series of attempts to ruin certain representations and to welcome a female spectator into the audience of men. If this work is considered “incorrect,” all the better, for my attempts aim to undermine that singular pontificating male voice-over which “correctly” instructs our pleasures and histories or lack of them. 
 Photography has saturated us as spectators from its inception amidst a mingling of laboratorial pursuits and magic acts to its current status as propagator of convention, cultural commodity, and global hobby. 
 ... the thing that’s happening today vis-á-vis computer imaging, vis-á-vis alteration, is that it no longer needs to be based on the real at all. I don’t want to get into jargon—let’s just say that photography to me no longer pertains to the rhetoric of realism; it pertains more perhaps to the rhetoric of the unreal rather than the real or of course the hyperreal. 
 I think that the exactitude of the photograph has a sort of compelling nature based in its power to duplicate life. But to me the real power of photography is based in death: the fact that somehow it can enliven that which is not there in a kind of stultifying frightened way, because it seems to me that part of one’s life is made up of a constant confrontation with one’s own death. 
 I worked with someone else’s photos; I cropped them in whatever way I wanted and put words on top of them. I knew how to do it with my eyes closed. Why couldn’t that be my art? 
 I have frequently said, and I will repeat again, in the manner of any well-meaning seriality, that I’m interested in mixing the ingratiation of wishful thinking with the criticality of knowing better. 
 Pictures and the words that mark or surround them seem to construct and contain us. From photos to movies, to TV, to home videos and computers, these pictures and words have the power to tell us who we are and who we aren’t, to dictate what we can and cannot be. But they also suggest that seeing is no longer believing and that what you see is not what you get. 
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