Monday, July 27, 2009

Martha Rosler: bringing the war home

One of The Onion's occasional gems was called Chanel Develops Durable, Low-Cost Perfume For Third World - Chanel 3rd. The article states:
... 3rd marks Chanel's first-ever attempt to appeal to a low- or no-income consumer market, and is part of the fashion world's desire to "give something back" to developing countries that have offered much in the way of photo-shoot locales and labor outsourcing. After six years of trial and error, Chanel's 17-member development team was able to bring the perfume's cost down to a more affordable $100-an-ounce.
I was reminded of this inspired piece of satire when I came across the photomontage art of Martha Rosler, who uses context displacement to bring together war and interior decoration in a medley of incongruities.

Martha Rosler, Red Stripe Kitchen

Martha Rosler, Red and White Shades (Baghdad Burning)

In these collage images from her exhibitions Bringing the War Home: House Beautiful, 1967-72, and Bringing the War Home: House Beautiful, New Series (2004), news photos of the Vietnam War and the Iraq war are combined with images from contemporary design magazines.

An old-fashioned and effective technique, and one that makes choosing the right kitchen light-fitting seem trivial when set amid a more grim reality. And yet this is how our society is constructed, with well-delineated areas of interest that co-exist unremarkably side by side until they are nudged a little too close together for comfort.

Intriguing art? A cheap trick? A truth? An artificial juxtaposition?


  1. how about an artful juxtaposition?
    i really like it. welcome back ,did you have a lovely break?

  2. I'm usually a bit suspicious of 'war in art' stuff - it seems like a short cut to pressing the public emotion button...

    Having said all that, I really like the first image of the soldier in the kitchen... Maybe it says something about the sillyness of both war and excessive interior design?

    But more importantly, you're back! Hoorah! Hope you had a fantastic break. (And thanks very much for your lovely comment on my last post :).

  3. I had a great break, thanks, with zero purchases and many resolutions to beautify various things (once the rain stops).

    'An artful juxtaposition' is a good compromise, Elaine, and Serena, you may be right about 'war in art' stuff - 'art in war' might yield more profound results.


You're looking particularly well.

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