Monday, November 12, 2018

Martha RosLer: Irrespective at The Jewish Museum: Review By Polly Guerin

Vacuuming Pop Art
Martha Rosler, the influential Brooklyn-based artist, believes that art should teach, provoke and motivate and she proves her point in the skillful use of diverse materials to address pressing matters of her time, including war, gender roles, gentrification, inequality, and labor.  
Considered one of the strongest and most resolute artistic voices of her generation Rosler advocates for social justice. From her early feminist photomontages of the 1960s and 1970s to her large scale installations, Rosler's vital work reflects an enduring and passionate vision. 
Image:Vacuuming Pop Art, or Woman with a Vacuum, selections from "Body Beautiful, or Beauty Knows no Pain," c. 1966-72. Photomontages. Courtesy of the Artist and Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York.
       Rosler's art is a call to action," says Darsie Alexander chief curator at the The Jewish Museum where a survey exhibition showcases five decades of the artist's work in MARTHA ROSLER; IRRESPECTIVE, which recently opened and runs through March 3, 2019.
       Rosler repeatedly explores the subject of food--its production and preparation, its consumption, and its powerful meanings in our social, domestic, economic and political lives, particularly those of women. In works of the mid- 1970s  Rosler often adopted the voices of an overburdened housewife, food service workers, and domestic servants, articulating the frustration of women forced to adopt particular roles because of their gender or class. In the 1970s Rosler was part of the first generation to use the new consumer-      
 consumer-oriented video equipment for artistic ends. The exhibition includes samples of her video work across more than four decades. She performs in several of her video works, not only in Semiotics of the kitchen, but in others such as Born to be Sold. 
       Semiotics, Rosler's best-known early video, is a deceptively simple portrait of the artist as cook and the cook as artists in which assumptions about both roles are questioned. In the video she adopted the voices of an overburdened housewife, social worker, or hostess and was adept at articulating the frustration and sometimes even self-deception of women forced to adopt roles they didn't necessarily want or skills they felt obliged to acquire, such as being a fancy cook.
House Beautiful: Bringing the War Home 
War and domesticity are recurring subjects in Rosler's art and one that emerged in a series focusing on the Vietnam War. This groundbreaking work, House Beautiful: Bringing the War Home (c.1967-72) combines mass media images from the first televised war with luxurious domestic interiors found in home decorating magazines of the era. 

         Domestic life serves for Rosler as a kind of microcosm of the world at large, a miniature stage on which gender roles and expectations are defined and tested: where labor is differently apportioned and differently valued; and where issues of economic access, equality and disparity play out. When the United States launched wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2003, she resumed the series, once more juxtaposing images of war with serene pictures of lavish homes, lush gardens, and fashion models. Simultaneously critiquing the wars and the superficiality of the contemporary American dream
        Ta Ta Darlings!!! Rosler's art resonates back in time and worth the trip. Fan mail welcome at  Visit Polly's Blogs at Click on the links, left hand column, to the Blog that interest you. 

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