Martha Rosler is an American artist. She works in video, photo-text, installation, and performance, as well as writing about art and culture. Rosler’s work is centered on everyday life and the public sphere, often with an eye to women’s experience. Recurrent concerns are the media and war as well as architecture and the built environment, from housing and homelessness to systems of transport. Her work and writing have been widely influential.

Rosler’s, “The Bowery in two inadequate descriptive systems” (1974-5) contextualizes the artists’ significant engagement with the area. The work offers a poetic, humorous, even elegaic interrogation of the concept of the Bowery as urban blight. Refusing the style of documentary or journalistic portraiture often used to personify poverty through the degraded human subject, Rosler concentrates instead on the evidence of an absence: empty liquor bottles and assorted detritus that suggest alcohol infused vagrancy and mark the passage of time. Juxtaposing these images are lists of synonyms for drunkenness or drunks.

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