Martha Rosler was born in New York, USA, in 1943. She studied at Brooklyn College of the City University in New York until 1965, where she received her Bachelor's degree (B.A.), and earned a Master of Fine Arts (M.F.A.) at the University of California in San Diego in 1974. Beginning in 1975, she worked as an art critic for art magazines, including artforum. In 1985 she completed an artist residency at the Art Institute of Chicago. From 1980 she taught at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey, and subsequently at the Städelschule, Frankfurt a.M., Columbia University and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.
She has participated internationally in numerous major and group exhibitions, including Documenta 7 and 12 in Kassel (1982 and 2007), the Whitney Biennials in New York (1987 and 1989), the London Institute of Contemporary Art, and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. In 1999-2000, the Generali Foundation Vienna (together with Ikon Gallery Birmingham, England) organized the first comprehensive retrospective of the artist's work, which made stops in Birmingham, Vienna, Lyon/Villeurbanne, Barcelona, and Rotterdam, as well as New York, USA. Further solo exhibitions followed in 2002 at the Moderna Museet Stockholm, Sweden, in 2005 at the Sprengel Museum, Hannover, Germany, in 2012 at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, USA, and in 2018 (with Hito Steyerl) at the Kunstmuseum Basel, Switzerland.
Martha Rosler was awarded the SPECTRUM, the international prize for photography of the Foundation of Lower Saxony, Hanover, in 2005. In 2006 she received the Oskar Kokoschka Prize, the highest award for fine artists in Austria. In 2017, she was awarded the Hamburg Lichtwark Prize. The artist is a member of the Association of Independent Film and Video and the Society for Photography. Martha Rosler lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
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)read more read less