Series Description

 
Semiotics of the Kitchen: Then and Now
TRT 15:53

Semiotics of the Kitchen
Video Details
Martha Rosler | 1975 | 00:06:09 | United States | English | B&W | 4:3 | Video

Playing with coded symbols of women's labor, Martha Rosler pokes, prods, and smashes kitchen utensils in this iconic 1975 performance.

Close Details
Semiotics of the Kitchen
Video Details
Martha Rosler | 1975 | 00:06:09 | United States | English | B&W | 4:3 | Video

Playing with coded symbols of women's labor, Martha Rosler pokes, prods, and smashes kitchen utensils in this iconic 1975 performance.

Close Details
Semiotics of the Kitchen: An Audition
Video Details
Martha Rosler | 2011 | 00:09:44 | United Kingdom / United States | English | Color |

In this "re-staging" of Martha Rosler's orginal performance, twenty-six women create their own kitchen alphabets with movements and phrases.

Close Details

About this program:

VDB TV is proud to present Semiotics of the Kitchen: Then and Now, two videos by Martha Rosler. This program includes both Semiotics of the Kitchen (1975) the ever-relevant feminist performance video, and Semiotics of the Kitchen: An Audition (2011) a recreation of the former, performed by twenty-six women and documented at Whitechapel Gallery in London. In recreating the original, each performer becomes an echo of Rosler while experimenting with the form in their own right. The two works time-travel between decades, exploring the importance and perseverance of feminist performance and video throughout art history. This program coincides with the release of crossings, the first major collection of film and video works by Rosler, accompanied by a contextualizing essay by Nora Alter.  

"Her work can be formally complex, politically powerful and uncannily funny — sometimes all at once. She is a master manipulator of images: cutting, pasting, decontextualizing, mimicking, rearranging our expectations. In her video piece Semiotics of the Kitchen (1975), she illustrates the alphabet with an apron for “A,” a hamburger press for “H.” She gesticulates and stabs the air and bangs the kitchen implements. This video is highly formal, drawing on relations between sign and signifier; it is a fairly direct critique of the domestic sphere of food production. But it’s also parodic, the anti-cooking-demonstration video. She’s deadpan."

— Martha Rosler Isn’t Done Making Protest Art, Sophie Haigney, The New York Times, November 2018

Love what you’re watching? martha rosler: crossings is coming soon!
Pre-order the compilation on vdb.org
martha rosler: crossings

About Martha Rosler: 

Since the early 1970s, Martha Rosler has used photography, performance, writing, and video to deconstruct cultural reality. Describing her work, Rosler says, “The subject is the commonplace — I am trying to use video to question the mythical explanations of everyday life. We accept the clash of public and private as natural, yet their separation is historical. The antagonism of the two spheres, which have in fact developed in tandem, is an ideological fiction — a potent one. I want to explore the relationships between individual consciousness, family life, and culture under capitalism.”  

Avoiding a pedantic stance, Rosler characteristically lays out visual and verbal material in a manner that allows the contradictions to gradually emerge, so that the audience can discern these disjunctions for themselves. By making her ideas accessible, Rosler invites her audience to re-examine the dynamics and demands of ideology, urging critical consciousness of the individual compromises exacted by society, and opening the door to a radical re-thinking of how cultural “reality” is constructed for the economic and political benefit of a select group.

Featured titles

Semiotics of the Kitchen

From A to Z in this mock cooking-show demonstration Rosler 'shows and tells' the ingredients of the housewife's day. She offers an inventory of tools that names and mimics the ordinary with movements more samurai than suburban. Rosler's slashing gesture as she forms a letter of the alphabet in the air with a knife and fork is a rebel gesture, punching through the 'system of harnessed subjectivity' from the inside out.

"I was concerned with something like the notion of 'language speaking the subject', and with the transformation of the woman herself into a sign in a system of signs that represent a system of food production, a system of harnessed subjectivity."

— Martha Rosler

Martha Rosler, Semiotics of the Kitchen: An Audition

In 2003, Rosler announced an open call for a live re-staging of her 1975 video Semiotics of the Kitchen, to be held at the Whitechapel Gallery in London, for A Short History of Performance, Part II. Twenty-six women — actors, artists, curators, and museum staff among them — participated in a rotating performance of the work. On three sets stocked with kitchen utensils, the participants enacted the work in front of an audience, while their performances also appeared on monitors throughout the gallery. At the end of the performance, the three groups of women came together to present the last few gestures of the video — including its final shrug. Semiotics of the Kitchen: An Audition documents the preliminary rehearsals with Rosler and the public event, the “audition.”

This title is only available on martha rosler: crossings.