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an international and interdisciplinary journal of postmodern cultural sound, text and image

Volume 18, Winter 2021/2022, ISSN 1552-5112



Martha Rosler’s Screened Surveillance



Jennifer M. Kruglinski





The clarification of vision is a first step toward reasonably and humanely changing the world. -Martha Rosler[1]



A woman’s steely blue eye, rimmed with a hint of icy eye shadow and a fringe of thick black lashes, meets our gaze as it peers out from across the interior of a spacious blue and beige bathroom. The eye fills the space on the wall behind the bathroom sink that’s typically reserved for the mirror. The unblinking, centrally located eye’s size, shape, and makeup application are all signifiers that congeal into a clearly idealized image of femininity projected within the screen of mass culture. Martha Rosler carefully lifted the close-up photograph of the staring feminine eye out of a fashion magazine and inserted it into the center of the composition of her photomontage Bathroom Surveillance (1966-1972).

A picture containing indoor, tiled, dining table

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Bathroom Surveillance or Vanity Eye [from Body Beautiful, or Beauty Knows No Pain] (c. 1966-1972)[2]


With that subtle appropriation, she placed a visually disruptive emphasis on the role of the masculine and feminine “surveying gaze” in the circulation of images in American mass culture and the parallel increase in surveillance within the contemporaneous American social and political landscape.

Rosler created a number of photomontages and videos in the 1960s and 1970s that highlighted the various ways in which surveillance became an increasingly prominent theme within the economic, political, social, and cultural landscape. Surveillance typically connotes espionage, intrigue, and the inner-workings of large but invisible external networks of power that exert control over the individual in ways that have become all-too-familiar, such as security cameras, wire-taps, location tracking, and other similar means of documenting the actions, words, and movements of individuals without their knowledge. Yet, Rosler demonstrates the nuanced connections between dual external and internal gazes of the surveyor and surveyed in both the public and private spheres, in photomontages such as Bathroom Surveillance or Vanity Eye, from the Body Beautiful, or Beauty Knows No Pain series (1966-1972) as well as in other media, such as the video Vital Statistics of a Citizen, Simply Obtained (1977). Unsurprisingly, the intertwined forms of surveillance that Rosler underscores are even more ubiquitous than ever in mass culture today, which renders Rosler’s early dissections of our internalized surveillance in the 1970s increasingly prescient.

The feminine eye that gazes out across the room in Bathroom Surveillance echoes the interventions in the 1970s of John Berger, Laura Mulvey, and many other critics’ descriptions of the ways that the ideality portrayed on the screen of contemporary mass culture trains every woman to constantly examine herself from personal and external perspectives in comparison with the idealized imagery of femininity from mass culture.[3] Simone de Beauvoir described the ways the behaviors of internalized surveillance shaped masculine and feminine identities, through which a woman, “discovers and chooses herself in a world where men force her to assume herself as Other.”[4] Women’s embodiments of the dual roles of the surveyor and the surveyed are inherent aspects of this Othering and are crucial to Rosler’s satirical critique. Bathroom Surveillance, in particular, deftly initiates an examination of the ways that mass media culturally and socially indoctrinate women and men into active or passive specularity, as well as the larger networks of power implicated in the screen that pervades contemporary society, through the mere substitution of an eye for a mirror. In the 1980s, critic Griselda Pollock extended the critiques of the 1970s and highlighted the way that the “sexual politics of looking function around a regime which divides into binary positions, activity/passivity, looking/being seen, voyeur/exhibitionist, subject/object.”[5] Different spaces can exaggerate or diminish the distance between these binaries, or even add more variations to them, and Bathroom Surveillance is an ideal example of the way in which Rosler asks viewers to critically examine how the screen of images in everyday life shapes our perceptions and identities through different binaries and spaces.

American viewers typically associate the bathroom with a private domestic space, nestled within the interior of a home. As Pollock noted, the public sphere exists primarily as a space of freedom, masculinity, and voyeurism in the controlling male gaze, while the private domestic sphere is a constrained, feminine space with fixed identities. [6] Each space determines behaviors and creates social identities, like the “detached observing gaze” of the masculine public realm, or the internalization of that gaze and the resulting feminine objecthood within the domestic or private space.[7] Rosler appropriated the bathroom portrayed in Bathroom Surveillance from a photo-editorial in an edition of the magazine House Beautiful, one of several magazines that Rosler often fished out of the trash room in her apartment building as fodder for her photomontages.[8] She chose the aspirational, idealized images that appeared in these magazines to re-examine and reconfigure the idealized domestic spaces and images presented on their pages within the disruptive spaces of her photomontages. The fact that Rosler reassembled these montaged collisions at her kitchen table only heightened the impact of her critique further. Her choice of a bathroom over other domestic interior spaces emphasizes the contrast between the privacy of the space within the montage and the abrupt invasion of the external, yet feminine surveilling gaze of the woman’s eye over the sink. In a simple appropriative gesture, Rosler adeptly addressed the internal and external presences and perspectives within the panopticism of contemporary mass culture, as well as the construction of the woman as Other through the spaces and gazes of contemporary culture. Rosler’s insertion of a staring feminine eye visually reinforces the idea that women simultaneously experience the subjectivity and objecthood embedded in their socially and culturally constructed Otherness that de Beauvoir describes, as they both internalize and embody the roles of the surveyor and the surveyed in private and public realms.

Rosler appropriated her images from glossy magazines because they were one of the most popular media outlets in America after World War II, and held that spot until the early 1970s, when television gradually surpassed them as the main media outlet. The proliferation of full-color photography on the gleaming pages of magazines in the 1960s further increased their circulation, and cemented the primary position of the magazine within mass media during the 1960s.[9] In this media landscape, Rosler’s appropriation and re-presentation of magazine imagery was a natural choice, since they held such a prominent position. As such, she worked within “the existing repertory of cultural imagery,” because, as theorist Craig Owens explained, the “subject, feminine sexuality, is always constituted in and as representation, a representation of difference.”[10] Owens’ discussion of feminine alterity only built on Jacques Lacan’s psychoanalytic foundation in which “the representation… of female sexuality, whether it is repressed or not, conditions its implementation.”[11] Artists, such as Rosler, who worked with the ‘transparent images’ of photography and film circulated by mass media, highlighted the transparency of those mediums—how these images erased their “material and ideological supports…so that, in them, reality itself appears to speak,” and became culturally persuasive to the general public.[12] Rosler’s photomontages crucially “render visible the invisible mechanisms whereby these images secure[d] their putative transparency,” so she can deftly disrupt the circulating and accumulating cultural capital of the mass media representations of sexualized female bodies.[13]

The intertwined internal and external aspects of surveillance that Rosler examined in her Bathroom Surveillance montage were a relatively new part of the panopticism of contemporary life, in which, as Michel Foucault noted, “the play of signs defines the anchorages of power; it is not that the beautiful totality of the individual is amputated, repressed, altered by our social order, it is rather that the individual is carefully fabricated in it, according to a whole technique of forces and bodies.”[14] Bathroom Surveillance reflects the way the network of panoptic power instructs the formation of both our private and public selves. Rosler implicated mass culture as one of the major networks of power, defined by the play of signs that created and reinforced women’s position as Other in its indoctrination of women’s self-surveillance of their own femininity and alterity. The massive and unblinking slate blue eye of the otherwise unseen woman in the photomontage literally embodied the critical act of feminine self-surveillance and its inherent adoption of a detached, observing, masculine gaze, yearning with a “primordial wish for pleasurable looking.”[15] The critical gaze of the surveyor forces the female observer to compare her appearance to the cultural ideals of femininity that recirculate and reinforce the culturally dominant and unattainable standards of beauty.

These impossible images of feminine ideality circulated through magazines, newspapers, movies, and television encouraged average women’s attempted approximations of the culturally reinforced ideals projected on the screen. The media’s representation of such an unreasonably idealized feminine beauty is an inherent aspect of consumer culture that drives the desires projected onto the late capitalist military industrial economy’s circulation of clothes, makeup, and even fad diets, all to sell an image and an identity in mass-produced goods. This representational ideality, as described by Kaja Silverman, is “something which can only ever be partially approximated.”[16] When Rosler replaced a mirror with a disembodied feminine eye in the Bathroom Surveillance, she succinctly disrupted the surveying gaze and screen of specular ideality that perpetually follows women in both public and private realms. She reminded the viewer that the panoptic network of power inherent in the late capitalist industrial society was and is so pervasive that the processes of surveillance that sustain and propagate post-industrial capitalist culture are present in the homes and minds of everyone in America, especially women.

Rosler’s photomontage, Woman with Cannon, Dots, from the anti-war series of montages, House Beautiful: Bringing the War Home (1967-1972), further implicates the different gazes of the public and private spaces within the specific historic context of the Vietnam War. In Woman with Cannon, viewers look out across a room, but this time their gaze falls upon a bedroom, not a bathroom. The opposite wall bears a mirror that reflects a nude woman. However, even though the woman appears in the mirror, she is not physically present in the room itself, and instead only exists as a reflection in the mirror. The wall with the mirror also bears two windows or paintings, both of which frame images of cannons or missiles aimed at the purely specular appearance of the nude woman in the mirror. The exchange of human and mechanical gazes distilled in the montage parodied the way the ideality of the feminine sexuality of the nude woman functioned solely as an object for the viewer’s pleasurable visual consumption both inside and outside the home. Although the nude woman gazes out of the mirror, she does so over her shoulder as she turns and reaches to cover herself, so that her eyes never meet the viewer’s directly. Rosler removed the nude apparition from a pornographic magazine, such as Playboy, but the pose of the feminine apparition in the mirror bore reverberations all the way back to the classically titillating modesty of the Aphrodite of Knidos. This pose re-appears on the screens of high and mass culture and emphasizes the female figure’s status as an object that lacks sexual or any other form of agency, and only reaffirms her spectral presence.


Martha Rosler. Woman with Cannon (Dots). c. 1967-72 | MoMA

Woman with Cannon (Dots) (c. 1967-72)[17]


In Woman with Cannon, Rosler exploits the slippery, yet productive interconnections between the realms of mass culture and fine art to ultimately reveal how “certain forms of mass culture … are more of a threat to women than to men. After all, it has always been men rather than women who have had real control over the productions of mass culture.”[18] Silverman’s examination of the representations of gender in mass culture further revealed that, “although every subject depends upon the ‘affirmation’ of the camera/gaze,” gender parity is not a feature of photographic representation, in which “woman is often obliged to ‘live’ hers much more fully than is her male counterpart, who is … aligned with camera/gaze.”[19] Although women might attempt to embody the image of idealized feminine sexuality that appears in the montaged bedroom mirror, they can only really ever aim at approximation, as they will only ever become a “good enough vamp.”[20] Rosler’s insertion of the apparition of idealized sexuality into the mirror exploits that distance between the screen and reality and pokes holes right through it, as the camera affirms the presence of the woman in the mirror as merely that of an Othered object caught by the surveying and photographic gaze of mass imagery and the world.

Rosler carefully utilized the iconography of the mirror, which traditionally functioned as a moral condemnation of women’s vanity, to highlight the ways women’s self-surveillance operates in a different manner from the surveying and controlling masculine gaze. In doing so, she implicates the interplay between surveillance and objectification as a key component of consumer capitalism in the 1970s. The individual photomontages in both Rosler’s Body Beautiful and House Beautiful series present the viewer with clashes of imagery that dissect the constantly reinforced and re-circulated specular objecthood of the woman. Woman with Cannon (Dots), in particular, parodied the role of the gaze as well as the Western iconographic trope of the vain woman and tied it to the larger Cold War mentality that fueled the photographic coverage of the war abroad as well as the consumer marketplace at home.

Rosler extended her exploration of surveillance beyond her photomontages and concentrated on surveillance and feminine domesticity in a series of videos and performances from the 1970s and into the early 1980s. In Rosler’s 1977 video opera of three acts, Vital Statistics of a Citizen, Simply Obtained, the primary act focused on a naked woman as men in white lab coats systematically measured, poked, and prodded her, and finally judged her statistical figure against the average, or mythic norm. This act, along with the rest of the video-opera illuminated the screen of ideality inherent in American mass culture, and the accompanying surveying gaze that falls upon gendered, Othered bodies.[21] Rosler adapted the 1977 video work from a 1973 live performance, and utilized the medium of video to provide an extra layer of mediation and distance between the spectacle of the nude female body on the stage and the viewer that was absent in the original live performance. In the video performance of the work, Rosler expanded the gallery-performance to include a third act that appropriated and quoted photographs from historic “pattern books” that propelled her deconstruction of a society obsessed with measurement and statistics, as she overlaid those images with a narration that addressed the violence inherent in statistical surveillance, all of which was impossible in the original live, gallery-based performance.

As the video opens, after the title fades to black, the voice of a female narrator, Rosler’s own, announces over the blank screen: “This is an opera in three acts. This is a work about perception.”[22] The narration continues against the flicker of the imageless monitor, as Rosler introduces and describes the three acts of the following ‘opera:’ the first occurs in real time and ends in a montage, the second is symbolic, while the third is, “tragic, horrific, mythic,” and about, “scrutiny on a mass level.”[23] As the narration continues, Rosler expounds on the hazards of institutionalized tests and measurements and the implied risks or benefits such surveillance and statistics bear forth. Slowly the scene on a stage appears onscreen and the first act of the opera commences as the real-time action unfolds before the camera, and a seated man appears on stage, dressed in a white lab coat, a visual signifier of his presumed scientific objectivity, and calls out, “Next!” as a female figure in street clothes, Rosler, enters the stage. The seated “scientist” quizzes her with questions about her sex, age, race, and ethnic background as a second man, also dressed in a lab coat, hurriedly records her answers on a large swath of paper mounted on the wall behind the stage. After the initial questions, Rosler moves towards the paper on the rear wall, where her observers trace her contours and literally measure every inch of her body, down to the depth of her vagina. A group of women in lab coats formed a “Greek chorus” who in response to each measurement sounded a whistle, a horn, or a bell to depending on whether Rosler’s measurement was above, below, or just average. The contrast between Rosler’s narration and the real-time performance on the screen hinges on the juxtaposition of the on-stage statistical surveillance peep-show with a voice-over meditation about bodies, self-perception, measurement, and judgment. In her narration she directly emphasizes the way the internalization of statistics and surveillance shape identity, as even at one point she notes that: “her mind learns to think of her body as something different from herself… She sees herself from the outside with the anxious eyes of the judged who has within her the critical standards of the ones who judge.”[24]

The initial act is a singular, continuous scene that at first, appears to merely recreate the 1973 performance with a stationary camera in the original position of the audience as it surveys the stage in one unmoving long shot that captures the measurement of Rosler’s on-stage persona. However, Rosler did not just re-perform the first act of the opera for the video camera. Instead, she took advantage of the flexibility inherent in the medium of video, and included the mediating, distancing narration, and montaged video segments of the on-stage subject alternately dressing and posing in a little black cocktail dress and then a wedding gown veil at the end of the first act. In the last moments of the first act, we briefly see Rosler’s measured on-stage persona wearing the pristine wedding gown and veil before the camera switches to a close-up shot of the paper at the back of the stage with the recorded contours and measurements of her statistical self.

Rosler included the men in both the performance and video, “to imply a system. Actually, two men and three women form the system. A chain of command is implied.”[25] This implication parodied the position and construction of the screen and the gaze, as well as the value that contemporary culture placed on statistical science as a truth that dictated how one should construct their individual identity. The enacting of the measuring, codifying, and quantifying of the female subject, by the men in white coats, and the submission of the subject to their commands created an embodied demonstration as well as a visceral, direct connection. The reactions of the Greek chorus only emphasized how completely and complacently we absorb, react to, and approximate the ideality projected in the screen: “Women enforce subordination in other women. I think that’s true of any subject population—there’s a sector that mediates between the rest of it and the bosses. In this case the women are the transmitters of male power.”[26]

Beyond the first act of the video, the second act, is, “symbolic: what is the same, what is different. What is outside, what is inside. Like Nana’s chicken–only here we deal with eggs.”[27] Rosler uses the symbolic second act to further highlight the dissonance between the images that appear in the external statistical screen and our individual inner realities. The camera adopts a new perspective to omnisciently observe Rosler as she crouches nude, next to an empty bowl and collection of several brown and white eggs. The camera looks on as she proceeds to crack and open the eggs into the bowl, revealing that obvious specular differences of the exterior are not apparent on the inside, effectively and symbolically reminding viewers to avoid the quantification and qualifications imposed by the ideality of mass cultural representations. Rosler moves away from symbolism and back to the concrete in the third act, in which she presents a montage of projected still black and white images, that portray women’s and children’s bodies being measured, while the narrator recounts a “litany of crimes against women,” that, “have the effect of diminishing our capacity for self-control, independence, and confidence,” such as femicide, clitoridectomy, childbirth torture, and wage slavery as outlined by the Tribunal on Crimes Against Women in 1974. [28]

In the third act, Rosler appropriated the black and white images that appear on the screen from American government books and pamphlets of measurements for “pattern design,” published during the late 1930s. These books presented information culled from measurements of large segments of the population, but focused solely on women and children, and displayed them as faceless objects, merely an assemblage of body parts followed by corresponding data with nothing more.[29] In her reproduction of the images and guidelines on statistics, surveillance, and measurement published by the American government earlier that century, Rosler underlined the way the social, political, and economic networks of power all converged to dehumanize populations.[30] To drive her message home, the video’s layered barrage of information satirized the way knowledge reached the populace in America in the 1970s (and today), in which, “a lot of things are drowned out by what’s actually happening to us at the time, but simultaneously there are insistent voices emanating from sources of power and authority.”[31] The durational medium of video permitted Rosler to transmit these multiple strata of information all at once to the viewer, which created a complex critique of the social constructs and networks of power in which the audience and the artist are both embroiled.

In the three acts of Vital Statistics, Rosler wanted to, “point out that neither photography nor science nor data-gathering were the villains of the piece, that social practices determined how these elements of human knowledge would be deployed in the formation of the categories ‘woman’ and ‘Other.’”[32] In her video-taped re-presentation of the idealized image of the female body as it appears in mass culture, an object or an assembly of measured parts at, above, or below standard, Rosler both represented and interrupted the predominant ideals of feminine beauty portrayed in the mass cultural screen. The actions of the “scientists” that ordered a naked female figure around and measured her thigh circumference, toe length, and vaginal depth immediately disrupted any voyeuristic pleasure derived from seeing a naked female body onscreen. Rosler’s emphasis on the act of measuring’s connection to judgement revealed the way that statistics and surveillance inform the internalized roles of the surveyor and surveyed in women as we attempt to approximate the ideality we see projected in mass media.[33] Despite the efforts of the men in lab coats and the ideality portrayed on the mass cultural screen, Rosler’s subject shows us that we must refuse the specular reduction of our identities to a mere set of numbers that represents ideality or banality, and, never “accept the idea that there is something to be learned about the self from measurement.”[34]

Another video by Rosler from the 1970s that engaged with the omnipresence of surveillance, is Traveling Garage Sale (1977). For this work, Rosler similarly based the video on a performance, and recorded the video during her second performance of her Garage Sale series of works. What originally began as a site-specific performance and installation in 1973’s Monumental Garage Sale at the University of California, San Diego’s art gallery, eventually grew into series of performances, photographs, and a video that extended from the 1970s into the twenty-first century, in which Rosler brought an aspect from life in the suburbs to the white walls of the gallery - the garage sale.[35] Rosler noted that she never saw a garage sale until she came to southern California, and she first thought of them as quite strange, especially since where she grew up, in Brooklyn, cast off items were given away, not sold.[36] This uniquely suburban intersection between the home and the economy, the personal and public, served as the impetus for Rosler’s ongoing project, which, in 1977, morphed into the Traveling Garage Sale, and moved into the garage of La Mamelle Gallery in San Francisco, during which Rosler also recorded the video of the performance and installation that bore the same title.

The grainy, black and white video opens with a bird’s eye view of a room occupied by several makeshift tables, built from doors, or plywood, laid on cinderblocks, and covered in organized piles of books, housewares, and toys. Clothing hangs on racks between the tables or on the walls behind them. The overhead vantage point of the video becomes recognizable as that of a closed-circuit security camera, an increasingly common feature in the public and economic spaces of the 1970s. The camera’s gaze surveys the garage sale from this omniscient vantage point in a remote corner of the room. As a few figures move about the space, the camera zooms in on an individual perusing the contents of one of the tables closest to the camera, and then back out again, repeating the alternation between zooming in on individuals and surveying the whole scene throughout the video. While the camera peers out over the sale, Rosler’s pre-recorded audio-meditation about garage sales and commodities that she played during her gallery-garage sale performance serves as the narration to the scene, as it asks viewers to reconsider the seemingly mundane, suburban event of the garage sale within the context of the late capitalist military industrial economy and the gender roles supported within that realm. On the recording, she cycles through seemingly personal and impersonal statements such as: “If it’s about divestiture, why not just give it away?” and: “She wonders, is it sacrilege to sell the shoes her baby wore?” interspersed with quotations read from Marx’s examination of commodity fetishism within Capital, as well as mundane domestic observations from a perceptibly feminine voice. The meditative mantra directly implicated the housewife’s concerns with Rosler’s larger socio-political critiques that centered around the lives and meanings that adhere to the mass-produced objects we acquire, and then alternately sell or give away.[37]

In the Traveling Garage Sale video, Rosler replaced the watchful eye of the receptionist at the gallery’s desk with the unblinking observation of a Kino-eye and brought the typically obscured monetary transactions to the front and center of the gallery’s processes. Through Rosler’s placement of the desirable objects, such as paintings and gently-used consumer objects in good condition, in the prime, well-lit locations near the front of the gallery, and with the less desirable ones, like used diaphragms, soft-core pornography, and undergarments in the dimly-lit rear of the gallery, she clearly shaped and directed the movement of the “audience” throughout the space. Her arrangement of the objects and space of the garage sale accorded much deeper meanings to the visitors’ spatial locations than one might observe in an ordinary garage sale, while it also heightened visitors’ awareness of the networks and processes at work in something as seemingly innocuous as a garage sale. The fact that the perspective of the camera is immediately recognizable as that of a closed-circuit surveillance camera both reveals how pervasive that technology has become while it also serves to distance the viewer from this space that they gaze out over and control through the camera’s series of pans and zooms. Throughout the whole videographic experience of the recorded performance, Rosler’s repeated mantra reminds viewers of the ways that social space is “a (social) product” that produces and controls power, through a confluence of social, physical, and mental space. [38]  Rosler highlighted this confluence as the narration about commodities and sales asked: “Why do we fetishize things so much? If it’s about divestiture, why not give it away?”[39] Similarly, she also placed the roles of gender, location, class, and commodity status at the front and center of the performance, video, and installation by removing a garage sale from its usual confines in a suburban neighborhood to a gallery space, which rendered the everyday feminine, domestic space, into a topic for critical re-examination. The distanced gaze of the closed-circuit video camera in Traveling Garage Sale specifically reminds viewers of the sexual politics of looking as well as the way the hybrid domestic/public/private space of the garage sale within the gallery creates identities and shapes actions in the larger networks of economic, political, social, and cultural power.

In a contemporary world where surveillance is an omnipresent part of our lives, and in which everyone, man or woman, is familiar with the experience of being watched, Martha Rosler’s video and photomontage examinations of the extent of the presence and indoctrination of surveillance in our society presaged in the 1970s what Edward Snowden announced in 2013. Despite the fact that Rosler heralded the proliferation of surveillance as well as its impact decades ago in the exchanged gazes in a photomontage such as Bathroom Surveillance or Woman with Cannon (Dots) and directly implicated viewers as both voyeurs and participants in videos such as Vital Statistics, ironically women still typically adopt both the external and internal surveying gaze of surveyor and surveyed as they view themselves simultaneously both as a subject as well as an object. This public affirmation of the role of the gaze and the screen is particularly relevant in a contemporary mass cultural landscape where women compete on reality shows such as America’s Next Top Model and The Bachelor in which judges gather statistics about the contestants, measure them against each other, and an “above average” physical appearance helps to secure a win. Rosler initiated an examination of the varied ways the internalization of surveillance affects society in her photomontages and videos of the late 1960s and early 1970s, the awareness of which is of ever-increasing importance today.





an international and interdisciplinary journal of postmodern cultural sound, text and image

 Volume 18, Winter 2021/2022, ISSN 1552-5112



[1] Martha Rosler, "For an Art Against the Mythology of Everyday Life," in Decoys and Disruptions: Selected Writings 1975-2001 (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 2004). 8.

[2] “Bathroom Surveillance or Vanity Eye [from Body Beautiful, or Beauty Knows No Pain].” Tang Teaching Museum, https://tang.skidmore.edu/collection/artworks/160-bathroom-surveillance-or-vanity-eye-from-body-beautiful-or-beauty.

[3] John Berger, Ways of Seeing (New York, NY: Penguin Books USA Inc., 1972), 46. I’m basing my discussion of the screen on Kaja Silverman’s interpretation of Lacan’s concepts in Kaja Silverman, The Threshold of the Visible World (New York, NY: Routledge, 1996), 195-227.

[4] Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, trans. Constance Borde and Sheila Malovany-Chevallier, epub ed. (New York, NY: Vintage Books 2011), 57-58.

[5] Griselda Pollock, Vision and Difference: Femininity, Feminism and Histories of Art (London: Routledge, 1988), 87. 87.

[6] Pollock, Vision and Difference: Femininity, Feminism and Histories of Art, 68-69, 71.

[7] Pollock, Vision and Difference: Femininity, Feminism and Histories of Art, 71.

[8] For her photomontages, Rosler culled images from home-décor magazines such as House Beautiful, Time and Life magazines, as well as women’s fashion magazines and pornographic magazines, like Playboy and Hustler.

[9] Although many magazines published some ads or images in color prior to the 1960s, most magazines ran primarily black and white images because of cost and time constraints.

[10] Craig Owens, "The Discourse of Others: Feminists and Postmodernism," in The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture, ed. Hal Foster (Seattle: Bay Press, 1983), 71.

[11] Jacques Lacan, Écrits: The First Complete Edition in English, trans. Bruce Fink (New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, 2006), 613.

[12] Craig Owens, "Representation, Appropriation, and Power," in Beyond Recognition: Representation, Power, and Culture, ed. Scott Stewart Bryson (Oakland, California: University of California Press, 1994), 111.

[13] Owens, "Representation, Appropriation, and Power," 111.

[14] Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison, trans. Alan Sheridan (New York, NY: Vintage Books, 1977), 217.

[15] Laura Mulvey, "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema," in The Feminism and Visual Culture Reader, ed. Amelia Jones (London: Routledge, 2003), 46.

[16] Silverman, The Threshold of the Visible World, 225. 5

[17] “Martha Rosler. Woman with Cannon (Dots). c. 1967-72: MOMA.” The Museum of Modern Art, https://www.moma.org/collection/works/150134.


[18] Andreas Huyssen, After the Great Divide: Modernism, Mass Culture, Postmodernism, ed. Teresa de Lauretis, Theories of Representation and Difference, (Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 1986), 62.

[19] Silverman, The Threshold of the Visible World, 146-47.

[20] Silverman, The Threshold of the Visible World, 225.

[21] See Amy Taubin, "'And what is a fact anyway?’ (On a Tape by Martha Rosler)," Millennium Film Journal, no. 4/5 (1979). 

[22] Martha Rosler, Vital Statistics of a Citizen, Simply Obtained, 1977.

[23] Rosler, Vital Statistics of a Citizen, Simply Obtained.

[24] Rosler, Vital Statistics of a Citizen, Simply Obtained.

[25] Martha Gever, "An Interview with Martha Rosler," Afterimage 9, no. 3 (October 1981): 12.

[26] Gever, "An Interview with Martha Rosler," 12.

[27] Rosler, Vital Statistics of a Citizen, Simply Obtained.

[28] Jane Weinstock, "Interview with Martha Rosler," October 17 (Summer 1981): 98.

[29] Gever, "An Interview with Martha Rosler," 13. Questions regarding income and other central features to the subjects’ economic status often followed the images and data, recorded under the auspices of government-directed social scientific progress.

[30] Ruth Askey, "Martha Rosler's Video," Artweek 8, no. 22 (June 4, 1977): 15.; Ironically, Bob Keil, at Artweek, was unsure if Rosler’s “concept of depersonalization [was] true-to-life.” He argued that the middle- and educated classes were granted significant leeway in their freedom of choice, and the collision of social modes of oppression with our freedom was the source of “the bizarreness of living in this society;” yet Keil continued that when he watched the tape, he was reminded that even the most “beautiful women will always insist that they have physical flaws, or that they must lose weight, etc.” and thus clearly was not quite aligned with the full critique of the depth of the institutionalization of standards of gender, beauty, and how those are measured and disseminated through our society. See Robert Keil, "Social Criticism as Art," Artweek 8, no. 27 (August 13, 1977): 16.

[31] Gever, "An Interview with Martha Rosler," 13-14.

[32] Steve Edwards, "Secrets from the Street and Other Stories," Ten.8 Magazine 35 (Winter 1989/1990): 42-43.

[33] Amy Taubin, "'And what is a fact anyway?’ (On a Tape by Martha Rosler)," Millennium Film Journal

no. 4/5 (Summer/Fall 1979): 61.

[34] Rosler, Vital Statistics of a Citizen, Simply Obtained.

[35] Rosler initially installed and performed the Monumental Garage Sale at the university gallery at University of California San Diego during her graduate work there.

[36] Martha Rosler, "An Evening with Martha Rosler" (The Museum of Modern Art, New York, November 26, 2012).

[37] Martha Rosler, Traveling Garage Sale, 1977. video and performance; Courtney Fiske, "Frustrating Desires: Q+A with Martha Rosler," Art in America (January 14, 2013 2013). http://www.artinamericamagazine.com/news-features/interviews/martha-rosler-moma/.

[38] Henri Lefebvre, The Production of Space, trans. Donald Nicholson-Smith (Cambridge Massachusetts: Basil Blackwell Ltd., 1991), 26.

[39] Rosler, Traveling Garage Sale.



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