Barbara Kruger exploresfeminist theory through mixed media and graphic art. Her signature style featuresa black and white imagery as background and bold text laid over red colorblocks.
Her works often inaugurate ongoing social, political and especiallyfeminist provocations. This particular piece voices many feminist ideals as itdisuses issues such as power, patriarchy and stereotypes. Kruger’s work contemplatesissues which reside in the core of the social power relations.
The sloganimprinted across the image “Your Body is a Battleground” refers to the struggleof power between the sexes – women fighting for a say in society and menresisting in order to maintain patriarchy dominance. This battle is furtherexplained in feminist writer Natalie Angier’s essay “Biologically Correct”, stating that there is a constant tug of warbetween men and women “over thesame valuable piece of real estate—the female body”1. Theseparation of the photograph into two halves with inversing colours can be interpretedas the two sides of the battle. The conception artist challengescultural assumptions by revealingand critiquing patriarchal ideology taken for granted in art and in society.The woman shown has perfectly symmetrical and delicate facial feature – an iconof feminine beauty. This allusion to the fabrication of femininity. ThisUntiled (Your Body is a Battle field) is published in the book Love for Sale,in which Kruger explained that she based her work on stereotyping a “domain as that of ‘figures withoutbodies.
” This is to say, in such a stereotypical projection of women, the womanis no longer an individual but rather a production of the society. The textadded also functions to criticize the circumstances under which this piece wasproduced. Kate Linker, the author of Lovefor Sale, states “Kruger’s mission is to erode the impassivity engenderedby the imposition of social norms”2. Bydissecting the historical construction of female identity, the stereotype isbroken. Kruger wants to make viewers aware of the intensity of the struggle,and the fact that women must always be on guard.
The male gaze and objectification of women is another topic discussed.In Ways of Seeing John Berger states “Men look at women. Women watchthemselves being looked at”3 Inother words, as women are objectified by the male gaze they are no longer incontrol of themselves, instead their thoughts and behaviours all stem from thejudgement of men. Therefore, the battle mentioned also refers to how women mustfight to be recognized as people, not objects. Kruger rejects the male gaze bypresenting the female figure making confrontational eye contact with theaudience.
The image is cropped to centralize her gaze. The text adds to thiseffect as “your” directly addressing the audience. Overall, Kruger’s workexpresses ideas directly related with the feminist theories at the time, and isknown to be an active supporter of women’s rights movements. Such believes areefficiently translated through her work.
1Angier, N. (2003). “Biologically Correct.
” Sisterhood is Forever: The Women’s Anthologyfor a New Millennium. Robin Morgan. New York: Washington Square Press p.
102Kruger, B. Linker, Kate, (1990). Love for Sale.
New York: Harry N.Abrams, Inc. p.283Berger, J. (2003). “Ways of Seeing.
” The Feminism and Visual Culture Reader.Ed. Amelia Jones. New York: Routledge. p.38