Martha Rosler (b. 1943) is a performance artist, video artist, and photographer whose practice has focused upon issues of politics, class, and gender. Her series Bringing the War Home, begun in 1967, was a set of photomontages that juxtaposed suburban interiors with photographs from the war in Vietnam; it was an early example of the activist content with which she imbued her primarily Conceptual work. The Bowery in two inadequate descriptive systems (1974-75), a spiralbound photobook containing images of the decrepit street placed opposite words indicative of drunken homelessness, was a career-defining work. After it came works of a more explicitly feminist bent: the six-minute video Semiotics of the Kitchen (1975), which drew attention to women’s prescribed domestic roles, and Vital Statistics of a Citizen, Simply Obtained (1977), a video documenting a woman’s reduction to her basic physical measurements. Since the 1980s she has returned her focus to more general concepts of social justice: housing, pollution, labor, globalization.
Rosler is also a critic, and her writing has often intersected with her own creative interests. She has explored the issues surrounding the art market, truth in photography, censorship, the birth of video art, and feminism’s place in the art world.
Martha Rosler, "Letter K (Knife)" video still from Semiotics of the Kitchen
Bloom, Lisa. “The California Work of US Artist Martha Rosler.” In Jewish Identities in American Feminist Art: Ghosts of Ethnicity, 83-104. New York; London: Routledge, 2006.
Phillips, Glenn and J. Paul Getty Museum. California Video: Artists and Histories. Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2008.
Rosler, Martha. Decoys and Disruptions: Selected Writings, 1975-2001. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press in association with International Center of Photography, New York, 2004.
Rosler, Martha, M. Catherine de Zegher, and Ikon Gallery. Martha Rosler: Positions in the Life World. Birmingham, England: Ikon Gallery; Vienna, Austria, 1998.