Feminism was the first form of activism to appear in Martha Rosler’s work. In the 1970s, her photomontages and videos already denounced the exploitation of women in advertising and the media, which perpetuate stereotyped and objectified representations. Since then, Rosler has maintained her feminist perspective and expanded the scope of her artistic commitment to denounce the many strategies of domination and control deployed by the capitalist system against people. Through videos, photographs, installations, performances, and essays, she analyses phenomena such as labour exploitation, US imperialism, immigration, the boundaries between the public and private spheres, urban gentrification, access to housing, war, surveillance systems and branding in the age of social media. Rosler warns us of the need explore the 'semiotics of our existence', and through her artistic, teaching, and writing practice she emphasises the fact that the images around us are not innocent: only a critical gaze will allow us to rebel against the clichés imposed on us.
Martha Rosler opens this SON[I]A with a lucid reflection on the political, psychological, and relational spaces generated by airports, as a metaphor of our times. She also analyses and questions the proliferation of surveillance systems and self-representations in contemporary society, while telling us about artistic circles in the seventies, the seminal video art scene, and the need to keep chasing utopias. And for our amusement, we take up Martha Rosler’s inadvertent invitation to reappropriate her 'Semiotics of the Kitchen'.
00:00 In the Place of the Public: Airport Series. Postmodern communities. Promises, rewards and punishments.
20:50 Artists don’t make revolution. People make revolution.
21:34 Don’t tell me utopia is over. That’s bullshit.
25:57 Only when women decide.
33:06 The 70s: New ways of creating, new ways of distributing. Activism, portapaks, U-matics and mailing lists.
34:46 "Semiotics of the Kitchen" (1975). Why don’t you make one?
44:16 Don’t trust still images.