Martha Rosler

In her canonical collage series "House Beautiful: Bringing the War Home" from 1967–72, Martha Rosler draws attention to how war permeates the private sphere via the mass media, becoming “familiar” and forming part of everyday aesthetic and moral experience. Alluding to anti-war photomontages by such artists as John Heartfield and Hanna Hoch, she juxtaposes photographs from the fashion and interior-design magazine House Beautiful with images of the Vietnam War. For the generation of activists from the 1960s, the series became an American Guernica. Rosler pointed out the responsibility of ordinary citizens for the horror unfolding thousands of miles from home, fuelled by their political and consumer choices. Rosler demonstrated how the presence of TV sets in every home turned the armed conflict in Vietnam into a “living room war”, ideally pasted into the background of Americans’ daily lives. Four decades after "House Beautiful: Bringing the War Home", one of the canonical pacifist pieces of the 1960s, Rosler chose to create a sequel. The new series reacts to the engagement of the United States in armed conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq—wars broadcast live in high resolution by cable TV stations, akin to a patriotic soap opera. Around six hundred journalists were posted in Iraq to ensure that viewers didn’t miss even the slightest details of the military operations pursued by the Americans. Additionally, new forms of reporting the war emerged, such as soldiers’ blogs, which also introduced non-military elements: friendship, cooking, and a peculiar kind of tourism (known as “miliblogs”). Combining photographs from fashion and interior-design magazines with images of everyday suffering and destruction, Rosler once again highlights the nexus of capitalism, the mass media and violence.

Martha Rosler (b. 1943 in New York) – artist and activist who criticizes the apparatus of power and oppression from a feminist perspective. Rosler works with photography, film, installation, performance and text. She is also involved in academic activity in the United States and Europe. Her works such as "Semiotics of the Kitchen" (1974–75) and "House Beautiful: Bringing the War Home" (1967–72) entered the canon of 20th-century American art.

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