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A budding gourmet

Martha Rosler

1974 00:17:00 United StatesEnglishB&WMonoVideo


To the spare sounds of a Schönberg violin concerto, a silhouetted woman seated at a small tea table puts forth her reasons for wanting to become a gourmet. Photographs from glossy cookbooks and magazines accompany her ideas about food as a key to refinement, breeding, and, in the case of “Eastern” cuisines, spirituality. For her, cooking is a way of accumulating and demonstrating cultural capital, whether it is the haughty elegance of a France she’s never visited or the fiery exoticism of a Brazil from which she’s just returned and, she believes, is now “hers” to share with friends. The work illuminates how the concept of the gourmet is bound up with notions of class, and how the kitchen, traditionally presented as the woman’s sphere of power, is used to encourage fantasies of mastery over other cultures just as surely as the “male” sphere of politics is able to do.

This title is also available on 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.

Also see:
Martha Rosler: An Interview