Taking Pictures – Barbara Kruger
There can be said to exist today a kind of oppositional situation in the arts (principally on a theoretical level only, as the marketplace tends to customize all breeds of activity); the laboratorial or studio versus certain productive or more clearly, reproductive procedures. As parody frees ceremony from ritual, so its ‘making alike’ allows for a disengaged (or supposedly) distanced reading.
This strategy is employed by a number of artists working today. Their production, contextualized within the art subculture, frequently consists of an appropriation or ‘taking’ of a picture, the value of which might already be safely ensconced within the proven marketability of media imagery. Using, and or informed by fashion and journalistic photography, advertising, film, television, and even other artworks (photos, painting and scupture), their quotations suggest a consideration of a work’s ‘original’ use and exchange values, thus straining the appearance of naturalism. Their alterations might consist of cropping, reposing, captioning, and redoing, and proceed to question ideas of competence, originality, authorship and property.
On a parodic level, this work can pose a deviation from the repetition of stereotype, contradicting the surety of our initial readings. However, the implicit critique within the work might easily be subsumed by the power granted its ‘original’ thus serving to further elevate cliche. This might prove interesting in the use of repetition as a deconstructive device, but this elevation of cliche might merely shift the ornamental to the religious. And as an adoration the work can read as either another buzz in the image repertoire of popular culture or as simply a kitschy divinity. However, the negativity of this work, located in its humour, can merely serve to congratulate its viewers on their contemptuous acuity. Perhaps the problem is one of implicitness, that what is needed is, again, an alternation, not only called ‘from primary to secondary’, but from implicit to explicit, from inference to declaration.