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Videotapes by Martha Rosler

“I want to make art about the commonplace, art that illumines social life. I want to enlist video to question the mythical explanations of everyday life that take shape as an optimistic rationalism and to explore the relationships between individual consciousness, family life, and the culture of monopoly capitalism. Video itself isn't ‘innocent': it is a cultural commodity often celebrating the self and its inventiveness. Yet video lets me construct, using a variety of fictional narrative forms, ‘decoys' engaged in a dialectic with commercial TV. In Semiotics of the Kitchen (1975, 7 mins), an anti-Julia Child replaces the domesticated ‘meaning' of tools with a lexicon of rage and frustration. Camera: Allan Sekula; Sound: Barry Rosen. In The East is Red, the West is Bending (1977, 20 mins, color), a woman demonstrating a wok at home, a failed Mrs. Pat Boone, speaks an absurd corporate text. Video: Brian Connell. In Losing: A Conversation with the Parents (1977, 20 mins, color), an impossibly young couple, subjected to an ‘interview' in their plush living room, try to account for their daughter's starvation. Video: Brian Connell. Vital Statistics of a Citizen Simply Obtained (1977, 40 mins, color), an ordeal of scrutiny, thinly alludes to a monumentally protracted episode of ‘Truth or Consequences.' Video: Brian Connell. In Domination and the Everyday (1978, 30 mins, color), photos of stubborn life in a welter of radio, advertisements, and child-routine are an artist-mother's ‘This Is Your Life.'”

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