Barbara Kruger, “Belief+Doubt,” 2012. © Barbara Kruger. Photo: Cathy Carver

Barbara Kruger’s Belief + Doubt

The Hirshhorn has reopened its doors and is welcoming visitors back with new exhibitions from artists such as Mark Bradford, Marcel Duchamp, and Laurie Anderson. However, for museumgoers, Barbara Kruger’s Belief + Doubt is an older hidden gem that warrants another visit—or two. That’s because, as curator Betsy Johnson tells it, the exhibit is perhaps even more timely now than when it was first installed. Belief + Doubt first came to the Hirshhorn in August 2012, transforming a common thoroughfare into what Johnson calls a “public art intervention.” Kruger’s work of text, printed on vinyl wrappings, works its way around bathrooms, escalators, coatrooms, and the museum gift shop. Its bold and engaging message directly interacts with the nontraditional space it’s in. Kruger asks visitors to explore desire and consumption as they make their way through the gift shop. In general, that engagement is what makes Belief + Doubt stand out. Kruger herself has called the exhibit a “hall of voices”: Printed in bright red, white, and black, the wrappings feature questions like “Who is beyond the law?” “Who is free to choose?” and “Who speaks? Who is silent?” In 2021, these questions, and their answers, carry even more weight. Kruger’s exhibit is on display indefinitely at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden,  Independence Avenue SW and 7th Street SW. hirshhorn.si.edu. Free.

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