10 August 2010

Semiotics, Celebs and Soaps



I came across Martha Rosler's Semiotics of the Kitchen (1975) via Jennifer Doyle's brilliant two-part article for Frieze magazine, titled 'Guest Stars' (Part 1 and Part 2), which I came across via Banshee Boy. I'd heard of this work before but it took Doyle's wonderful analysis of the nexus between performance art, pop/television culture, and the cult of the celebrity to bring me to it directly, and in a way that enabled me to consider it relevantly, not merely abstractly or obligatorily.

Doyle writes: "Martha Rosler’s Semiotics of the Kitchen is the most famous of a generation of feminist works directly parodying the fully domesticated femininity modeled on television programmes... All of these works may be read as performance-for-video, and signal the particular investment of feminist artists in television, which has long been marked – and denigrated – as domesticated media. (It should be noted that because of their feminist content, none of these works would ever have been candidates for broadcast on network television.)"


I really recommend reading the whole article but if you don't have time other interesting threads to follow via Doyle include the work of Nao Bustamante (above), the reality TV show Work Of Art, Salvador Dali in What's My Line? and the performance art (as opposed to acting art) of James Franco (pictured below with Marina Abramovic).


By the way, it is interesting to think about (e.g. after watching Rosler) the alphabet as a tool for knowledge, perception, sensation, categorisation, manipulation, regulation, and the creation of value-systems. My name is at the end of the roll, where is yours?

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