March 24, 2015

Watkins Continues Visiting Artists Series on APRIL 16 with Preeminent Contemporary Artist/Writer Martha Rosler


The artist and writer Martha Rosler–one of the leading figures in contemporary art during a four-decade career–will speak at Watkins College of Art, Design & Film on Thursday, April 16 as part of the Watkins Visiting Artists Series. Please note: April 16 is a re-scheduled date for her appearance (lecture was originally set for March 12).

The presentation, which begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Watkins Theater, is free and the public is invited. The Watkins Visiting Artists Series (VAS) is funded in part by a grant from Humanities Tennessee, an independent affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

(Photo: Gabinete de Comunicación de la Diputación de Granada)

(Photo: Gabinete de Comunicación de la Diputación de Granada)

Through work that includes video, installation, performance and text, Martha Rosler has been an incisive critical voice in almost every debate in the art world for the past 40 years. She has been the subject of several high-profile solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, the Dia Art Foundation, the Art Gallery of Ontario, and other institutions, but early in her career was considered an underground artist for combining different media like photography, video, installation and performance in innovative ways.

from "Bringing the War  Home"

“The Gray Drape” (2008)

As part of the “San Diego Group” (along with Fred Lonidier, Allan Sekula and Phel Steinmetz), she was instrumental in reshaping the discussion around documentary photography. She is best known for a series of photomontages entitled House Beautiful: Bringing the War Home (1967-1972) and for her early explorations of video as a medium, especially her famous Semiotics of the Kitchen (1975). Her photo-conceptualist project The Bowery in Two Inadequate Descriptive Systems (1975-1976) offered an important critical perspective on documentary photography in light of conceptual art.

Martha Rosler Semiotics of the Kitchen still WwebRosler is also a prolific author (15+ books and dozens of essays, many published internationally) and, in both her work and writings, has contributed immensely to discussions about feminism, art and politics, and gentrification. Her collected essays, Decoys and Disruptions, was published by MIT Press in 2004. Her work has appeared in exhibitions at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, the International Center for Photography, and numerous other institutions. Rosler has been included in the Venice Biennale and several Whitney Biennials, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City hosted her Meta-Monumental Garage Sale in 2012. Based in Brooklyn, she has taught at Rutgers University and at Städelschule in Frankfurt, Germany.

“Martha Rosler offers an indispensable critical voice,” said Tom Williams, assistant professor of art history at Watkins and chair of the Watkins Gallery Committee, which oversees the VAS. “Any account of the art world today that ignores her work and writing will almost inevitably be hopelessly narrow and foolishly naïve.”

VAS title WwebNow in its fifth year, The Watkins Visiting Artists Series (VAS), with support from the Humanities Tennessee Grant Program, welcomes nationally and internationally recognized fine artists, designers, filmmakers, educators and critics to the campus and the community. The guest artists, whose work crosses many disciplinary boundaries, give public presentations, sharing their expertise and perspectives on their careers and providing insight into issues facing contemporary artists and designers. The VAS offers the area’s cultural community a rare opportunity to engage the work and ideas of trendsetting visual artists, designers, filmmakers and intellectuals. The critically acclaimed initiative has not only brought a number of internationally renowned artists to Nashville—like first-time visitors Harrell Fletcher, R. H. Quaytman, David Hilliard, Jonathan Katz, Alec Soth and Artemio Rodriguez—but it has also invigorated the local art scene by introducing artists working in new media and performance—artists like Nick Briz, Jon Satrom and Liz Magic Laser (2013 New York Armory Artist)—and those expanding the parameters of traditional media and art practice—such as Chris Sickels, Deborah Luster (2013 Guggenheim Fellow) and Natalia Almada (2013 MacArthur Fellow).

The 2015 Watkins VAS is a three-lecture initiative: the series kicked off with letterer/illustrator Jessica Hische on January 22 and will continue with artist/activist Ashley Hunt in a rescheduled appearance [TBD].

About the Artist
Martha Rosler body beautiful_sm
Martha Rosler works in video, photography, text, installation, and performance. Her work focuses on the public sphere, exploring issues from everyday life and the media to architecture and the built environment, especially as they affect women. Rosler has for many years produced works on war and the national security climate, connecting life at home with the conduct of war abroad, in which her photomontage series played a critical part. She has also published several books of photographs, texts, and commentary on public space, ranging from airports and roads to housing and gentrification.

A retrospective of her work has been shown internationally, and her writing is published widely in publications such as Artforum, e-flux journal, and Texte zur Kunst.

Essay from e-flux, 2010: Take the Money and Run? Can Political and Socio-critical Art “Survive”?

Martha Rosler_garagesale WwebIn 2012, she presented a new series of photographs, taken during her trip to Cuba in January 1981, and the Meta-Monumental Garage Sale at MoMA in New York. In 2013, her book of essays, Culture Class, which deals with the role of artists in cities and gentrification, was published by e-flux and Sternberg Press. Most recently, she produced the exhibition and public project Guide for the Perplexed: How to Succeed in the New Poland at the CCA Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw, Poland.

Rosler lives and works in Brooklyn. For more information, visit www.martharosler.net.


Creative Times Reports — Making Art in a World of Ferment: A Conversation with Martha Rosler (2013)

Art Pulse interview with Martha Rosler: “Feminism is a viewpoint that demands a rethinking of questions of power in society and thus has undeniable potency.”

Rear Window interview (2014)

Martha Rosler Discusses Art, Politics, and the Social Life of Photographs (2014)

Meta-Monumental Garage Sale (2012): MoMA event and MoMA exhibition site

New York Times article and New Yorker article

Culture Class part 1 (2010)

Semiotics of the Kitchen video and Semiotic of the Kitchen clip

ArtNet News Q&A (2013)

House Beautiful exhibition at Worcester Art Museum and Boston Globe article on House Beautiful

Watkins is located at 2298 Rosa L. Parks Boulevard in MetroCenter; free parking is available in the campus lot. For more information, including updates to programming and future series guests, visit Watkins.edu or call 615-383-4848.

HumanitiesTN logo smFounded in 1973, Humanities Tennessee is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting lifelong learning, civil discourse, and an appreciation of history, diversity, and community among Tennesseans. Statewide programs include the annual Southern Festival of Books: A Celebration of the Written Word℠, the Appalachian and Tennessee Young Writers’ Workshops, a variety of History & Culture programs, Grants & Awards for teachers and community organizationsChapter16.org, among many others.

Mission: Humanities Tennessee nurtures the mutual respect and understanding essential to community by enabling Tennesseans to examine and critically reflect upon the narratives, traditions, beliefs, and ideas—as expressed through the arts and letters—that define us as individuals and participants in community life.

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