Barbara Kruger's "Untitled (Shafted)" in the elevator of the Broad Contemporary Art Museum is one of three commissioned artworks on the grounds. (The others are John Baldessari's scrims on the building's facade and Robert Irwin's Palm Garden. And there's a fourth if you count Chris Burden's "Urban Light," which began in 2001.) Given that the three-floor building is the equivalent of six stories, Kruger's installation proved to be one of the thorniest, since it fills the interior of the elevator shaft and cannot be viewed all at once. "So it became about how to make meaning in pieces," she says. "Where you collect bits and pieces along the way." Using a palette of black, white and red, the 86-foot-tall graphic includes dozens of phrases, some known and some invented, including quotes and pointed commentary about consumerism and scrutiny. Running through the shaft are discussions about "the articulation of space" and "the inertia of watching," but those are ultimately eclipsed by words such as "flat screen TVs," "smaller noses" and "spirituality." Says Kruger: "I really just wanted to address certain things I normally deal with in my work."
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