Being on the Side of Surprise

In the 1980s, feminist conceptual artists Barbara Kruger and Jenny Holzer made large-scale public art interventions that mimicked the language of advertising. Their art appeared on billboards, electronic signage, buildings and other open surfaces to critique the way in which corporate cultures had fully occupied the visible horizon of public thought with slogans.

Their work was not designed to be surreptitious, like Banksy's, but to be abrupt and startling. The point was to surprise.

In a statement in 1984, Barbara Kruger said this:


I am concerned with who speaks and who is silent. I think about works which address the material conditions of our lives and the oppression of social relations on a material level: in work which recognises the law of the father as the calculator of capital. I want to speak and hear outlandish questions and comments. I want to be on the side of surprise and against the certainties of pictures and property. (Statement, 1984)

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