martha rosler interview
In Losing some absurd things are said, but my intention was not humor but rather penetration. It actually just popped out of the drawer recently and Iâve been working on it again. Do you think that in our modern media age something has changed in the way we experience and understand these events? So gradually I realized Iâd rather do those things, although I kept painting for quite a while. It was completely acceptable and considered cute. It sounds idiotic to say that nowadays, but you have to realize that the 1970s were a different universe. Postmodernism in art was also a recognition that meaning was slippery and that ’second nature,’ which we may handily think of as the culture that Debord was writing about, was more essential to those relations of production than nature, the natural world. And what made you change your mind? Photographs of family life and corporate ads are juxtaposed with a written text that crawls across the screen, comparing life in Chile with life in the United States. These works entered the art world initially through reproduction in Artforum. SM: How did Semiotics in the Kitchen come about? So for me, it was an easy slide between the womanâs body and the womanâs home, and I think that actually there is some psychological resonance with that. Centre de la Imatge during the exhibition “If You Lived Here Still …”, an archive project by Martha Rosler. Her works range from photo-text to video, performance and installation. I had been doing a lot of thinking about and even writing about cooking, and the way that cooking transferred onto women the role of both producer and consumer of what formerly was haute cuisine. Itâs called POINT AND SHOOT, a mourning thought (though I am more enraged than in mourning), (2016), and itâs another kind of photomontage â itâs part of the exhibition at the Jewish Museum. And I laughed when I read it because it was in Artforum, and I thought, âHere you are writing about me, and yet Iâm not a serious artist!â And they didnât understand what it could possibly be about, thatâs what one curator said. martha rosler, semiotics of the kitchen, 1975, video still (courtesy of martha rosler) In recent years, Brooklyn-based artist Martha Rosler has established a traveling library of her books, a non-traditional exhibition that is the culmination of an artistic career devoted to a radical reading and research practice. I decided I needed to pay more photographic, or you might want to say documentary, attention to the spaces we inhabit, and, more importantly, to those we pass through. And it took a while for it to penetrate with me, that space was also something that feminists should care deeply about. P.B. I donât still feel that way anymore today, obviously. Stephanie Murg: Over the course of your 50-year career youâve mastered a broad range of media, from collage, to painting, to photography, sculpture, and video. Martha’s influences on the art of filmmaking remain obvious and continue to evolve over time. Do you consider Off the Shelf another kind of floating library? Zooming out from the domestic interior, how did you become interested in investigating public spaces and housing? All images are courtesy of the artist. Why is that? I thought shelter was the most boring thing you could ever imagine. Rosler calls Domination and the Everyday, with its fragmented sounds, images, and crawling text, an artist-mother's This Is Your Life.Throughout this work, we hear—but do not see—a mother and small child at dinner and bedtime while a radio airs an interview with a gallerist about Californian art of the 1960s. We may also think of postmodernism as an acknowledgement of a shift in late capitalism from industrial production to financial flows and neoliberalism, perhaps to deal with the falling rate of profit, and from economic localism to globalism. This is not democracy. Kids love it. You have engaged with this topic both from an artistic as well as an art-critic point of view. But there is little democratic about museums. A Victorian idea, yet a remarkably enduring one. Another important aspect of your work is the ability to collapse complex cultural, political, and social issues into a very personal kind of view â not necessarily the view of a single person, but making it so that the viewer gets an individualized perspective on these massive, usually faceless problems. - I do observe one big change: the shift from the combination dealer-art critic toward the dealer-collector, and with it a diminishing critical discourse that affects the quality of exhibitions and the kind of art being sold, which I understand is hopelessly kitsch-easy identifiable, nostalgic, pastiche-like, nicely realist and hardly critical. It has become unfashionable to call oneself a postmodernist in art at present, and in literature it seems to also have been a passing phase, filling in for that moment in which, as Lyotard termed it, the grands récits, or grand narratives, of social telos were proving to be bankrupt. (Laughs.) “Video Mode” interviewed by Stephan Pascher, in: Merge (Stockholm and New York) No. - With the supposed nuclear weapons in the hands of Iraq that never materialized and the death of Osama Bin Laden without any evidence of the corpse, how can we interpret critically the concept of the real or the truth, or do we just accept whatever governments say? M.R. I think the U.S. is worse in this regard than Europe, where curators often continue to have a strong idea about the need for critical engagement through art. Itâs affected us all. Even on the level of clothing, in thinking about my anti-war work, I was very interested that the people we were fighting didnât look like us, and it was very easy to demonize them. Another, earlier video which centers on food production and consumption was A Budding Gourmet, and a postcard series I produced a couple of years earlier can be found collected as Service: A Trilogy on Colonization, three first-person narratives of women in different social locations, also with respect to the preparation and consumption of food. 1978, 32:09 min, color, sound. The interview was filmed in La Virreina. I moved from San Diego to San Francisco and I heard about the crisis of affordable housing, and I learned about gentrification, and I started reading about it, and investigating it, and then I moved back to New York in 1980, and I thought, âWow, people actually canât afford to live in Manhattan anymore.â Like me! My opinions on the pedagogical function of the art institution have remained in a state of suspension. But I had to call a halt to it at a certain point, because the books got very tired and wanted to go back home. - Your work has related to women’s and feminist issues, and even your anti-war oeuvre, which is more known, takes off from this angle. M.R. For this interview, Rosler took a break from completing several new pieces for the Jewish Museum show to invite PINâUP into her Greenpoint brownstone, where we discussed her trailblazing work on housing and the built environment, and how she continues to bring the big issues home. M.R. Martha Rosler. Interview with Martha Rosler, 2006 May 12 and 2008 February 15 Martha Rosler (b. "There was a tremendous amount of alternative culture that completely took place... without any relation to the high art world of New York,” she remembers. At the center of her artistic practice are sociopolitical concerns related to, among others, women’s place in society, art and its power structures, post-modernism and corporate media. They’re still run by upper management, in conjunction with trustees and donors, and are in some degree of thrall to municipalities and elected representatives. By and large they can’t make a living from the writing, and often they don’t plan to. 72-77. - A false choice if I ever saw one. 6, Fall 1999, pp. Courtesy of the artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York. “Feminism is a viewpoint that demands a rethinking of questions of power in society and thus has undeniable potency.”. Thatâs exactly the time when I was dealing with these issues such as housing and gentrification in relationship to the political, financial, and art systems of New York City. Martha Rosler, Photo Op, from the series House Beautiful: Bringing the War Home: New Series, 2004. M.R. I don’t have any problem with discussing the details. Gullibility is not uniformly spread throughout the layers of society, and people are skeptical when claims made run counter to their perceived interests. Martha Rosler (American, b.1943) is a photographer and video, installation, and performance artist, as well as a writer and educator. It wasnât live TV, it was filmed, so it was never quite the same day that we were seeing it, but we didnât know that, so we got to see conflict with dinner! M.R. Itâs a place to escape from. The video is ‘a lexicon of rage and frustration’ produced through a noisy and slightly unruly alphabetic demonstration of some hand tools in the traditional kitchen. Citizen journalism is precisely what drives the many blogs and ephemeral print publications I read. Martha Rosler was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1943. And thatâs what I did. - For some years we witnessed new critical thinking regarding the position and function of the artistic institution, which crystallized in the so-called New Institutionalism, a sociological perspective on institutions and how they interact with and affect society and the individual. Interview with Martha Rosler (part one) Zofia Maria Cielątkowska 19.03.2014. aktualizacja 19.03.2014 07:14 It is not your first visit in Poland? Floating free of cynicism and buoyed by compassion, Roslerâs work can be devastatingly funny or amusingly devastating, and often both. Martha Rosler, Window display for Monumental Garage Sale, New Museum, New York, 2000. But of course the intelligentsia, as mentioned earlier, are naturally at the center of the art audience-one might even say art community, such as it is. And that was why the war was called âthe living-room war.â So itâs not as though we see more of the war, in some ways the framing around it is worse, but in other cases, there is a lot of advocacy for people in other situations who are, we can say, victims of (U.S.) drone strikes and other forms of warfare. I think young women have a kind of phobia about being labeled ‘feminist,’ but does this mean that the empowering of women in the public sphere has retreated? Iâm thinking in particular of the Iraqis who really had nothing to do with 9/11 but somehow became the target of our ire. I will not contest the idea that women are responsible for reproduction and also the maintenance of the family and the home, and that we are nurturers. There are many people out there who are much better at it than I am. Born in Brooklyn, Rosler received her BA from Brooklyn College in 1965, and went on to obtain an MFA in 1974 from … I think that in the 1970s women thought space was a male-artist issue, and process was feminine. There is no such thing as citizen journalism for now. - It’s not really a show but ‘an event,’ a participatory installation and performance. We might want to consult Guy Debord’s The Society of the Spectacle, in which he points out that the ’spectacle’ is the representation of the social relations of the means of production in advanced capitalist economies. So one day I was walking down the street with my boyfriend, and letâs see, I was on Broadway approaching Astor Place. Martha Rosler has been making art from a feminist perspective since before the Vietnam War, when she xeroxed her photomontages and passed them out at protests as part of the anti-war effort. Martha Rosler, Letter K, Knife, from Semiotics of the Kitchen, black-and-white video, 1975. One of your most iconic series is House Beautiful: Bringing the War Home (c. 1967â72), where you brought together familiar, domestic, relatable spaces with grueling images of the Vietnam War. I am holding a gigantic garage sale in the atrium of the museum-a garage sale is a great, ritualized American institution, a way for private people and families in small towns and suburbs to recoup some financial value from their discarded commodities and for their neighbors to find something of value at a low price. Paco Barragán - Let’s start with your article “Lookers, Buyers, Dealers, and Makers: Thoughts on Audience,” first published in 1979, and of which you wrote a post-scriptum in 1984. Or at least it was! Do you remember a particular moment when you first took notice of the misrepresentation of women in the media? What are your ideas about this? It has been very useful in organizing activists-that much should be obvious, I think. I was always surprised at the differentiation between what girls were supposed to do and what boys were supposed to do because I was pretty much a tomboy. Museums are certainly more approachable-they have gone far to make themselves seem like friendly and desirable places to visit by adding galas for the well-heeled, dance parties for the young, and activity days for the youngsters. - I hardly think social class has diminished in respect to the intellectual ownership of art. I was part of a group of artists against the war in Iraq. So the other things were just things that artists did as a way of saying, “I actually do have something to say that can be translated into images as opposed to abstractions.” It was a way of pointing at it without saying, âThis is a heavy reading list,â because those works are not reading lists, they are suggestions of where a reader might want to go if they want to know about art, activism, and education; or about urban space; or about the history of occupation in the public sphere, like Occupy, which I was a participant in, but also the Paris Commune and other forms of occupation. P.B. I think thatâs a good way to put it; I like to bring issues, which are relatively abstract, down to the level of the personal. 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