No Progress in Pleasure
New York: CEPA, 1982.

Like many of the downtown artists, Barbara Kruger is interested not just in traditional forms of art, but also in expanding the possibilities for art and in understanding the limitations culture constantly places on art. As a woman trying to create a female subject position, Kruger's work often struggles with and critiques the forces that try to make women into objects, disallowing them subjectivity. Well versed in post-structuralist understandings of categorization, French critical thought, and feminist critique, Kruger blends text with image to deconstruct the tenets of traditional art. Her work "Your gaze hits the side of my face" is one example of this. The image shows a photo of a classical female statue, the symbol of "beauty" in traditional art history, but undermines this interpretation by pointing out that the male gaze at the female object is an aggressive act that silences women from taking part in the discourse. Kruger's emphasis on breaking down socially constructed notions like "art" and "beauty" links her work to the mainstream of downtown work.