Canelo, Maria José - Barbara Kruger’s collages and the production of disobedient consumers

Publicado en Painel Temático 04

Autoria Canelo, Maria José  (Universidade de Coimbra)
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Título Barbara Kruger’s collages and the production of disobedient consumers
Sessão PT04. Visual discourses in public spaces


Barbara Kruger’s urban-inspired visual works articulate a critique of the discursive constructions both of the consumer and of consumption itself. A former designer and picture editor in magazines, Kruger resorts to the aesthetic and linguistic methods of advertising and media to challenge the forms of knowledge of the consumption society. In line with Michel Foucault’s theory of discourse as a network of disciplinary knowledges (1972; 1978), this paper will consider consumption as a discipline and the consumer as the subject it produces, taking Kruger’s conceptual art as a disruptive instance of agency that subverts social truths established by dominant discourses. To this end, it will explore the visual strategies deployed by Kruger in representing desire, obedience, and consent in some of her works, in tandem with the very concept of guerilla semiotics underlying her project. It is expected that a combination of some of the tools of visual discourse analysis proposed by Kress and van Leeuwen (1996) with an approach that privileges context and power relations like that advanced by cultural studies will allow for a productive examination of both the representations and the meaning-making strategies that underlie the work of this artist and activist.

Foucault, Michel. The Archaeology of Knowledge. 1972. London: Routledge, 2008.

Foucault, Michel. The History of Sexuality. Vol 1: An Introduction. 1978. Transl. Robert Hurley. NY: Vintage Books, 1990.

Kress, G. and Theo van Leeuwen. Reading Images. The Grammar of Visual Design. London: Routledge, 2006.

Kruger, Barbara et al. The Artist as Public Intellectual. Wien: Schlebrügge Editor, 2010.