The American artist Martha Rosler works in a broad and divergent set of mediums including video, photo-text, installation, and performance, as well as having penned a hefty body of writing about art and culture. Rosler’s work is often centered upon the construction of everyday life and the public sphere, and her early works often questioned the construction and oppression of women.
Semiotics of the Kitchen, Martha Rosler, 1975
Her explorations in all of these mediums often look to the construction and elaboration of social reality and the questioning of the apparent transparency of language systems and move through such diverse locales as the media, codes of representational systems, the agendas and the repressive systems of social architecture (from housing and homelessness to systems of transport), and the battlefield of the body.
Vital Statistics of a Citizen, Simply Obtained, Martha Rosler, 1977
Her work has been seen in the Venice Biennale of 2003; the Liverpool Biennial and the Taipei Biennial (both 2004); as well as many major international survey shows, including the various Documenta exhibitions in Kassel, the Munster sculpture project, and several Whitney Biennials. A retrospective of her work, “Positions in the Life World” (1998-2000) was traveled through European and was shown in New York at the International Center of Photography and the New Museum of Contemporary Art). Though this is merely a short list of her vast achievements.
The video works which had a profound influence on video and it’s relation to social systems of oppression include “Semiotics of the Kitchen” (1974/75), “Vital Statistics of a Citizen, Simply Obtained” (1977), “Losing: A Conversation with the Parents” (1977), and, with Paper Tiger Television, “Born to Be Sold: Martha Rosler Reads the Strange Case of Baby S/M” (1988).
Martha Rosler discusses (in the above video) motivations, inspirations, and foundations of her Work
Her photo/text work “The Bowery in two inadequate descriptive systems” (1974/75) is a seminal work in conceptual and postmodern photographic practice which juxtaposes differing language systems to explicate the social agendas of control and consideration. The photo work, “Body Beautiful, or Beauty Knows No Pain” (1966-72), addresses the photographic representation of women and domesticity (as does the video “semiotics” shown above) and “Bringing the War Home: House Beautiful,” addresses the imagery of the Vietnam War and the contrary and placid aspects of the internalized imagery (1967-72; reprized in her current work in relation to the War in Iraq in 2004).