Acclaimed artist Martha Rosler to lead Fowler Lecture

January 14, 2016

An artist whose work has ranged from provocative, avant-garde statements of the feminist struggle and public forums on homelessness to photomontages that juxtapose the carnage of war with the luxury of American homes will visit the University of Oregon for a talk this month.

Martha RoslerInternationally acclaimed artist, photographer, and educator Martha Rosler will deliver this year’s George and Matilda Fowler Lecture. Her presentation, titled “In the Place of the Public: Where Art Resides in Contemporary Society” will take place at 6 p.m. on Thursday, January 21, in Lawrence Hall Room 177 (1190 Franklin Boulevard).

Rosler’s work has spanned photomontage, photography, video, and art installation. She has published more than fifteen books of art and photography. Her various works, which embrace social activism and often border on the subversive and unorthodox, are exhibited internationally.

Rosler was named the first recipient of the 100K Prize from arts organization The New Foundation Seattle in November 2015. Rosler received $100,000 in cash with this award, which is presented to an influential, US-based woman artist in recognition of her extensive catalogue of work and commitment to social justice through her practice.

Her art is included in permanent collections of several museums, including the Museum of Modern Art, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art, the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

One of her first breakthrough works was a 1967-72 series of photomontages in which she spliced together images from the Vietnam War into advertising images of American homes in a collection titled House Beautiful: Bringing the War Home. This included using images of maimed Vietnamese citizens and amputees, published in Life magazine, placed into affluent American living rooms selected from photos within House Beautiful.

Rosler later revisited this theme in a 2004 follow-up series about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, in which she splices together images of hooded prisoners-of-war with a high-fashion supermodel in a living room.

These two series will be exhibited this year at the Seattle Art Museum in association with the 100K Prize.

In 2010, Rosler received a Guggenheim Museum Lifetime Achievement Award.

She presented her first solo exhibition Meta-Monumental Garage Sale at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 2012.

Her book of essays, Culture Class, on the role of artists in gentrified cities, was published by e-flux and Sternberg Press in 2013. She recently produced the exhibition Guide for the Perplexed: How to Succeed in the New Poland, in Warsaw, Poland.

Cleaning the Drapes
Above: Cleaning the Drapes, from the series “House Beautiful: Bringing the War Home" (1967–72). Photo via MoMA, courtesy Martha Rosler.

In 1975, Rosler released the feminist art performance video “Semiotics of the Kitchen,” a parody of cooking shows, in which she aggressively uses different cooking tools to allude to the feminist struggle and renounce traditional, middle-class housewife duties.

Rosler also focuses on places of passage, with her various photography series on roads, shop windows, and airports. In 1989, she presented If You Lived Here…, a series of three exhibitions, four public forums, and other events about housing accessibility, homelessness, and the built environment within New York City. It was a collaborative effort, including work by artists, filmmakers, homeless people, poets, writers, schoolchildren, and others. A corresponding book, If You Lived Here: The City in Art, Theory, and Social Activism, was published the following year.

This series was revisited and expanded upon in 2006 with If You Lived Here Still… and will become a centerpiece at the New Foundation Seattle in January 2016 through January 2017.

A career retrospective of Rosler’s work toured five European cities and two New York museums, the New Museum of Contemporary Art, and the International Center of Photography from 1998 to 2000.

Rosler received the Spectrum International Prize in Photography in 2005 and the Oskar Kokoschka Prize in 2006. She was awarded an Anonymous Was a Woman Award in 2007; in 2008, she was the United States Artists Nimoy Fellow.

She lives and works in Brooklyn.

This lecture, part of the Department of Art Lecture Series, is made possible by the George and Matilda Fowler Endowment Fund.