Barbara Kruger’s Untitled (Don’t Shoot) packs a powerful message relevant to our time now more than ever before.
The black and white image of a man holding a miniature camera in his hands sports a menacing smile, presumably frozen in the moment just before he presses the shutter button.
Abruptly and all at once, the viewer becomes the target of the pervading nature of the man’s gaze and Kruger’s iconic cherry-red and white text.
The tag “DON’T SHOOT” stands front and center above the boxy camera, evoking a stark juxtaposition both enticing and provocative. Black, white, and red signals, an emblematic nod to colors commonly affiliated with advertisements and newspapers, captures Kruger’s incessant desire to appropriate images for the purpose of critiquing the conventions of mass media and their associated advertisements.
The play between the commercial and art worlds is perpetually at the heart of Kruger’s work, and here the tabloid headline and paparazzi style snapshot break down the boundaries between the viewer’s engagement with the piece.
Untitled (Don’t Shoot) made its first debut at the Modern Art Oxford’s solo exhibition in August 2014