For decades, Martha Rosler has influenced numerous contemporary artists with the radicalism of her artistic position. From July 6 to September 24, 2023, the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt is dedicating a focused solo exhibition to the American conceptual artist and pioneer of critical feminism. Rosler’s political artwork deals with issues of power, violence, social injustice, with war reporting, as well as with society’s images of women and their deconstruction. For her socially critical photomontages and videos, the artist uses a variety of media such as photography, text, and installation. The exhibition at the Schirn will feature an array of major works selected in close cooperation with the artist, offering an overview of Rosler’s oeuvre since the 1960s. Of central importance are Rosler’s iconic series House Beautiful: Bringing the War Home and Body Beautiful, or Beauty Knows No Pain, along with her richly influential piece The Bowery in two inadequate descriptive systems. This concentrated tour of her work is based on three thematic fields: war iconography, the significance of the dominant patriarchal perspective as it affects the constitution of gender, and the artist’s observation of her neighbourhood.
Dr. Sebastian Baden, director of the Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt and curator of the exhibition, elucidates: “In her work Martha Rosler combines strong, emotionally provocative images and texts that also inspire contemplation. Her visual and textual montages can be understood as commentary. Rosler employs simple creative strategies to approach protest aesthetics. This turns her work into a demonstrative medium and a tool for enlightenment, for documenting democratic resistance to injustice. Her clear, analytical gaze as well as her persistent, poetic, and deconstructive work on significant social issues are what make the artist Martha Rosler so relevant to our time”.
Luise Leyer, cocurator of the exhibition, emphasizes: “Martha Rosler’s work can be counted as part of the first generation of 1960s’ feminist art. In many of her works, she explores the human body and its function as a visual projection surface and political subject. Through her art, Rosler analyzes body politics in society and media. The artist works conceptually on her themes, often in series and using montage. In her photographs and films, Rosler pays special attention to the invisibility of caretaking, the exploitation of migrant labor in agriculture, and the peace movement, as well as other political demonstrations around the world”.