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Issue 165

Questionnaire: Barbara Kruger

Q. What do you wish you knew? A. How to answer questions in a complex, honest and clever way.

BY Barbara Kruger in Interviews , Questionnaires | 12 AUG 14

Members of a pro-Ukrainian self-defence group play with a dog at a roadside checkpoint in Ovidiopol, Ukraine. Courtesy New York Times, Redux and Eyevine; photograph: Mauricio Lima

What should change?

Everything that makes the world a more dangerous, greedy, power-abusing, toxic, tragic place: torture, arrogance, war, road rage, imperiousness, envy, belief without doubt, racism, sexism, triumphalism, the pathologies of surveillance, disease, snark, drought, earthquakes and the love of guns. Stuff like that. Also, better public transport and good free education should be available to all. And the human lifespan should be doubled and lived in a relatively painless, productive and pleasurable way.

What should stay the same?

The smell of coffee in the morning, good friends, green and blue pottery, sunny skies, great views, out-of-control laughter, the Beachwood Café in Los Angeles, the intellectual rigour of Rachel Maddow, the brave complexity of Laura Poitras, the brutal anthropology of The Real Housewives (of all locales), the necessity of public intellectuals, the world-changing work of resistance and organizing (both online and on the ground), public radio, the intensity of music, bougainvillea and lavender, kittens and puppies.

What do you wish you knew?

How to speak many languages, how to cure disease, how to write code, how to answer questions in a complex, honest and clever way. But, actually, I don’t wish that because I so totally prefer questions to answers. Questions can be about possibilities rather than definitives. So, I answer and define myself. I hate war and I love kittens. Ugh. Why am I doing this? I think I know the answer to that question.

is an artist who lives and works in New York, USA, and Los Angeles, USA. She teaches at the University of California, Los Angeles. In 2005, she was awarded The Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 51st Venice Biennale, Italy. Kruger’s exhibition at Modern Art Oxford, UK, runs until 31 August.