Martha Rosler – The grey drape

My first impression of the subject of this piece is that the woman in grey is “pulling the wool over our eyes”, attempting to obscure our view of the scenes that are occurring behind her, outside. In an attempt to cover up what is going on, promoting the ‘if you ignore it, it doesn’t exist’ mentality that the media and society use when handling difficult subject matters like war, destruction and the brutality of our reality.


This piece belongs to a show called “Great Power” and references her own series from the 60s called “Bringing the war home”, as it’s done in the same style but instead of referencing and using imagery from the vietnam war, she uses imagery from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. By doing this she is commenting that nothing has changed in the 40 years since the initial series was produced, “This is the same scenario. We haven’t advanced at all in the way we go to war.”


The viewer could also look at the woman in grey and think that she proudly and “triumphantly lifts a cloth from the window as if unveiling a public monument to reveal a fiery battleground.” The artist has situated the woman in grey into an apartment filled with contemporary and expensive furniture, that in addition to what the woman is wearing, suggests luxury and opulence, which is the polar opposite of what is occurring outside the apartment this creates a tenuous, dynamic and expressive atmosphere. This stark comparison of realities, is clearly a commentary on the disconnect and bliss like ignorance we have towards different parts of the world and the conflicts that occur in them. The interior seems to be a pristine, safe haven in comparison to the frightening, harsh reality outside the window, which is reminiscent of the coverage and reporting on wars in the media, and their “us and them” mentality. The viewer could see this piece as a commentary on the US government trying to ignore and conceal the atrocities of war from the public, or as veterans experiences of returning to domestic life from wars and trying to fit back into society while still being haunted by the battlefield. You could also argue that the artist is also commenting on how the news brings the atrocities of war into our homes, and that this could be seen as a visual portrayal of the domestication of violence. I would like to emulate her approach to socio-political issues in my work in the future.


The artist has been playful but considerate with their use of line as the rectilinear window frame is used as a separator between the soft fabric and gentle forms in the interior and depictions of war outside.


I find Martha Rosler’s style very inspirational, and would like to see if I can produce some photomontages/collages in a similar style, but based on my theme for this project.


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