Martha Rosler, born in New York, where she lives today, studied until 1965 at the Brooklyn College of the City University of New York and received her master of fine arts degree at the University of California in San Diego in 1974. Since 1980, Martha Rosler has been teaching at Rutgers University, New Brunswick/New Jersey at the Städelschule, Frankfurt a.M., at the Columbia University and at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Rosler's works were shown at the Documenta 7 and 12 in Kassel, and at the Whitney Biennales of 1987 and 1989. In her project "If You Lived Here...," shown at the Dia Art Foundation of New York in 1989, Rosler involved not only artists and film/video makers but also architects, activists, street artists, and the homeless, thus accentuating commu-nicative and activist aspects. In 1999, the Generali Foundation (together with the Ikon Gallery of Birmingham, England) organized the first comprehensive retrospective of the artist's work, which toured art institutions throughout Europe and the United States.
In her performances, videos, textual works, photographs, and installations, Rosler confronts her audiences with political subjects and the role of the media, analyzing quotidian, domestic, and urban life from a feminist viewpoint not altogether devoid of humor. In her series, "Beauty Knows No Pain," or "Body Beautiful" (1965-74), she used techniques of collage to create a sense of unease with the ways in which women are portrayed. She has used this technique continuously, as in her well-known series of photomontages, "Bringing the War Home: House Beautiful," and "Bringing the War Home: In Vietnam" (1967-72). Here, as in her installation "B-52 in Baby's Tears" (1974), Rosler scrutinizes the role of the mass media in wartime. By the mid-1970s she had begun to employ so-called "Wordworks" (textual works) to focus on food as a central factor in social and politico-economic terms. Food and its part in the construction of the female role was also the theme of Rosler's performance video, "Semiotics of the Kitchen" (1975). A further essential aspect of Martha Rosler's work is to be seen in her critical approach to the social implications of urban structures. Her photo/text installation entitled "The Bowery in two inadequate descriptive systems" (1974-75), is considered one of the most important reflections on the role and the representative character of documentary photography. (Monika Vykoukal)