I’d walked past the gallery many times before but never popped in until today. I’d got the train into Oxford just for something to do, but shopping for anything non-essential-for-the-house leaves me panicked, and the hot muggy day meant battling hoards of tourists just for a wander wouldn’t be much fun. So when I passed the museum I thought I might as well pop in.
I hadn’t heard of Kruger before, but I was wow-ed on entering the first studio. Her oversized site-specific work involves floor-to-ceiling text and slogans critiquing mass media. This is exactly the sort of art I’ve always enjoyed, I thought — graphic, large pieces of work where you become part of it.
It reminded me of Yayoi Kusama’s exhibition at the Hayward gallery a few years ago, where she transformed the studios by wrapping them in red and white polka dot paper and mirrors to match her sculptures.
On leaving this studio, the vast impressive scale of the first room was removed, and I was faced by a room filled with small, similar looking black and white images Kruger had emblazoned with her own slogans. The art in this room felt dated, and so did the next, where projected images of bedazzled handbags and old flip-style mobile phones were interspersed with thoughts on consumerism. The old fashioned objects meant the work felt irrelevant, and I was surprised to see Kruger made it in 2008. (Although I’m sure there are lessons to be learned when the fashions of a consumerist art work look dated just six years later…)
The exhibition continued to underwhelm me but I was glad I’d visited for the first, impressive piece and even more glad that I hadn’t had to pay for the privilege. I’d definitely suggest popping in for a short visit if you pass it. And the cafe looked good too!