Vital Statistics of a Citizen, Simply Obtained

© Generali Foundation Collection—Permanent Loan to the Museum der Moderne Salzburg, Repro: Werner Kaligofsky

Martha Rosler

Vital Statistics of a Citizen, Simply Obtained, 1977

Video performance, color, sound, 39 min 20 sec Performers: Martha Rosler, Adele Shaules, Phil Steinmetz, Darrell Westlake, Dana White, Pam Wilson Camera: Brian Connell Post production: John Baker


Artwork text

In this “opera in three acts” on “perception of the self” (Prologue), a video performance following the live performance of the same name (1973), the theme is the administration and objectification of human beings, in particular of women, in a technical-bureaucratic society. The first act plays in real time. A woman (Rosler) is measured down to the last detail of her body by two men dressed in white coats. The woman removes one item of clothing after another until she is completely naked. The rating of her measurements is repeated musically by a women’s trio. A montage follows: the woman dresses herself again, the clothing switching between a black cocktail dress and a white bridal gown. In the second, “symbolic” act the naked woman strikes a bowl. In the last “tragic” act a voice counts out “crimes against women,” while government images of women and children, who are being measured, are faded in. (Sabine Breitwieser)