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the broad

Untitled (Your body is a battleground)

Barbara Kruger
1989
photographic silkscreen on vinyl
112 x 112 in. (284.48 x 284.48 cm)

Barbara Kruger, Untitled (Your body is a battleground), 1989

 

KARA WALKER

The thing about audio guides is I feel inclined to tell the viewer how to, steer clear of being told how to view an artwork (Laughs) by somebody like me.

 

NARRATOR

Kara Walker

 

KARA WALKER

Who is the you who’s being addressed? “Your body”. Whose body? To whom is the artist speaking? Is it you? What is the battleground? What is being fought over and why? Is it the body of a woman…?

 

[AUDIO FROM 1989 March on Washington

Pro-choice advocates came out in force in Washington because of mounting concern that the Supreme Court may soon reverse the right to abortion.]

 

NARRATOR

In 1989, a new wave of anti-abortion laws swept the country. That year, Barbara Kruger made Your Body is a Battleground for the historic pro-choice march in Washington D.C.

 

KARA WALKER

Barbara Kruger’s was one of those seminal works in this propagandistic kind of, visual style. I got very interested in the reality that artwork can have, not just the political intent but that it can actually move a crowd, you know? ... spur people into action.

 

NARRATOR

The woman’s bisected face references the stark divide over women’s reproductive freedom.

 

She looks like a beauty from the 50s, but her face is distorted by tabloid style text, the eerie reverse image, and the disembodied head. Though she may address us with a universal “YOUR” similar to Uncle Sam’s recruiting message, this image warns us of the potential for threat rather than heroism.

 

KARA WALKER

An artwork confronts a viewer and a viewer is forced, asked, maybe kicked, (Laughs)... into action. This work is a reminder, to me, of that very clear reality that you can’t take your life for granted.