(You can download the .pdf of the syllabus from ecommons)


Film 162 Authors: Martha Rosler

Tue/Thu Studio C 3:00-5:00

Lindsay Kelley

lkelley (at) ucsc (dot) edu

Office hours in Communications 110: Tuesday 5-6:30pm, & by appointment



This course will take the photo, collage, video, and written work of Martha Rosler as the starting point for a rigorous interrogation of how your own artistic practice interfaces with politics, media, and visual and written expression. Who is your audience? How does text work within your practice? How do you respond to current events? How do you work with and credit collaborators? Rosler has addressed these questions and more in both her written and visual work, inspiring younger artists to resist modernist paradigms and create situated, context-rich art. We will look at Rosler’s work alongside the work of her contemporaries and artists she has influenced. Course projects are designed to engage Rosler’s methods and materials while remaining focused on the concerns of your practice and your cultural milieu.


Your grade will be made up of the following components:


15%            Reading Project

15%            Writing Project

15%            Eating Project

25%            Final Project

10%            Presentation, drafts, & feedback given to others

10%            Screening & Reading Responses

10%            Participation (includes attendance, alertness, promptness, talking in class, visiting office hours)


If it is possible for you to take this class pass/fail, this is encouraged. You will still receive plenty of feedback on projects. Check with your academic advisor to make sure P/NP is a good choice for you before deciding.


Please notify me of any absences in advance. Repeated unexcused absences and tardiness will lower your grade.

Work submitted late will be penalized one grade per day (e.g. B+ to C+).

If you qualify for classroom accommodations because of a disability, please get an Accommodation Authorization from the Disability Resource Center (DRC) and submit it to me in person outside of class (e.g., office hours) within the first two weeks of the quarter. Contact DRC at 459-2089 (voice), 459-4806 (TTY), or http://drc.ucsc.edu for more information on the requirements and/or process.

Any act of academic dishonesty will result in failure of the class and disciplinary action.


Required text: Martha Rosler, Decoys and Disruptions: Selected Writings, 1975-2001 (Cambridge: MIT Press, 2004). Available at Literary Guillotine (204 Locust St, Santa Cruz)


Assignments: 3 short proof of concept assignments are followed by a more elaborate and resolved final project, which will be derived from one of these three early sketches.


Expect to present work in groups and for the class. Everyone presents at least once.


Reading (Draft April 12, due April 14)

Do a “reading,” a la Paper Tiger Television. In a separate statement (1-2 paragraphs), clearly articulate what you are reading (ie, Vogue, National Geographic, a particular news story) and how you are reading it. Decide on a form and perhaps even a script for your reading. Producing a complete reading may be difficult at this stage; instead, present an excerpt and/or a detailed script/storyboard.


Writing (Draft May 3, due May 5)

Write an essay. Maybe about Rosler, maybe about a topic of mutual concern (documentary photography, video art, images of war, urban space, the everyday, etc). Consider taking one of Rosler’s essays as a starting point, either thematically or structurally. Perhaps you will address how writing interfaces with your own art practice, or perhaps you will take this opportunity to perform a close reading of the work of an artist who matters to you, as Rosler does with Lee Friedlander. 5-7 pages, MLA citations, cite at least three sources. If you feel that a short statement is necessary, by all means introduce your paper. (For example, if you are writing about someone who has influenced your work, explaining that decision will help me understand your paper.)


Eating (Draft May 24, due May 26)

Work in the kitchen. This could take the form of an interview project (ie Linda Montano’s work), a recipe collection, a performance*, a video, an installation, or an image collection or postcard series (recall Rosler’s postcard books, IMG_MGMT essay and collections like Women Smiling With Salads). Include some visuals or edibles to complete the work. Perhaps you work in a kitchen or food service environment and a workplace intervention, real or imagined, is in order (this could be private, as with Cindy Sherman’s early work, or public, as with McTowers Maid).** In a separate statement (1-2 paragraphs), explain how your kitchen work relates to Rosler’s, and your reasons for pursuing this particular combination of form and content.


For all of these short projects, I’m grading based on three things:

Form: If I’m looking at a well organized, skillfully executed, intelligible project, that means high marks for form. Form also includes things like spelling and grammar.

Content: What is your work about? The ease with which I can answer that question, and the subtlety and interestingness of my answer determine your marks for content. When trying to figure out what your work is about, ask the question “So what?” Why should you and I care about the issues addressed in your project?

Context: This includes your artist statement, your awareness of contingencies and audience, your attention to the setting for your work and its reception. Addressing things like audience and venue in your artist statement helps a lot, since classroom presentations can (falsely) appear to exist in a vacuum.


For your final project, expand on one of these three small projects, producing a “finished” work. Due June 8. You may still have room to expand the project further, but, this should be more than a proof of concept. The final project should stand on its own. An accompanying artist statement is recommended but not required.


If you choose to expand your reading, you’ll end up with a complete piece, to be either performed live* or presented as a video work. Your reading might turn to some other format not discussed here (graphic novel, photo essay, radio program, extended script and storyboard). Any manifestation of your reading is welcome, but if it seems very out there and you would like to discuss, that would be a good idea.


If you choose to expand your essay, respond to comments received on your shorter essay, and make the longer essay 8-10 pages, MLA citations, cite at least five sources. Please do not write an entirely new paper. Even if substantial changes occur, find a way to connect the two papers and build from the first one. Presentations for the essay will involve circulating drafts of presented papers prior to a roundtable discussion.


If you choose to expand your kitchen project, explore how you might develop your first project into a bigger body of work. For example, if you arrived at a set of questions and did a few interviews for a nascent interview project, now would be the time to conduct more interviews and reflect on their content. If you began a recipe collection or archive, how might you expand that collection, and what critical commentary might accompany it?


As I grade the final project, I care about form, content, and context again, but I also care about whether or not the work stands on its own, and the degree to which you have worked through comments on the smaller “seed” project you are building on. Each of these five factors roughly translates to a letter grade. For example, a great project that has nothing to do with the earlier project or totally ignores feedback on the earlier project would earn a B rather than the A it might earn had this last requirement not existed.


*All performances should include documentation, to be delivered within 48 hours of performing. Performing during class time is encouraged. Studio C might not be the best venue; we can travel. Make arrangements for scheduling the performance and documenting it well ahead of the performance, and make yourself available to document the performances of others. You might object to documenting performance work, and you are welcome to ask that documentation be destroyed at a future date, but, please have some sympathy for your instructor, who really can’t remember all the details of your performance without at least a few pictures!


** Do not risk your job!


In lieu of exams or quizzes, keep a reading/screening journal during the quarter. Perhaps the most convenient way to do this is electronically—a text file either on your computer or in the cloud. I’ll collect this journal three times. If you choose to use a paper journal, be prepared to part with it for a few days periodically. Lectures will present a few critical approaches to each reading—look for explicit questions about the readings in the lecture slides (these questions might inspire your journal entries). I’ll expect you to have entries for all of the screenings and at least 80% of the readings (write about, or at least take notes on, screenings while films are fresh in your mind–I will try to devote class time to your journal writing whenever possible). I understand that every reading might not inspire a response, but try to write about most of them. It’s fine to substitute a recommended text for a required text for the purposes of the journal, but do try to read those required texts.


Presentations: Everyone will present once. Sadly, I’m afraid we don’t have time for people to present more than once. There are three types of presentations you could give:

Present one of your proof of concept projects. (3 dates: April 14, May 5, May 26)

Present your final project as a draft for critique. (2 dates: May 26 or June 2)

Present your final project in its finished form. (June 8)


Presentations must be short and to the point: 5-10 minutes, with as much discussion as we have time for after everyone has presented. You can do more than you think in 5-10 minutes if you are prepared. For the June 8 meeting, students presenting written work will circulate their papers ahead of time (June 6) and present in panels with discussion following each panel. Try your best to read or at least skim circulated papers, and definitely read the papers of your co-panelists.


Do not be intimidated by the amount of reading on the syllabus. Many of the readings are just a few pages long, or even a single page. Note that underlined readings are recommended, not required. Try to complete each week’s readings before Tuesday’s class.




Week 1 Introduction: Contexts for understanding Rosler’s work

Jayne Wark, “Conceptual Art and Feminism: Martha Rosler, Adrian Piper, Eleanor Antin, and Martha Wilson” (E)

Martha Rosler, “Lookers, Buyers, Dealers, and Makers: Thoughts on Audience” (DD)

Martha Rosler, “Theses on Defunding” (DD)

Martha Rosler, “The Suppression Agenda for Art” (DD)

Martha Rosler  “Take the Money and Run? Can Political and Socio-critical Art ‘Survive’?” http://www.e-flux.com/journal/view/107

March 29: Introduction, enrollment. Buy the book.

March 31: Feminist and anti-war art, culture wars, artist as educator


Week 2 Responding to Current Events

Martha Rosler, “Martha Rosler Reads Vogue” (Positions in the Life World, pdf p. 111)

Martha Rosler, “Place, Power, Position, Politics” (DD)

martha rosler’s partial, partisan blog roll http://veralistcenter.org/theme/?p=803 (this page is an introduction; click on links to parts 1, 2, and 3)

Martha Rosler and Christy Lange, “Bringin’ it All Back Home” (interview) http://www.frieze.com/issue/article/bringin_it_all_back_home/

Martha Rosler & Paper Tiger Television, “Martha Rosler Reads Vogue” (S)

Martha Rosler & Paper Tiger Television, “Born to be Sold: Martha Rosler Reads The Strange Case of Baby $M” (S)

Renee Tajima & Paper Tiger Television, “Renee Tajima reads Asian images in American film” (S)

Martha Rosler, “If it’s too bad to be true, it could be disinformation” (S)

April 5: What is a critical reading? News, media, art (opening @ Sesnon)

April 7: Mostly screenings


Week 3 Urban Space

Martha Rosler, “Fragments of a Metropolitan Viewpoint” (E)

Martha Rosler, “Tompkins Square Park, East Village, Lower East Side, Manhattan, New York” (E)

Martha Rosler, “Travel Stories” (E)

Jodi Hauptman, “Public or Virtual? Martha Rosler’s Space Travel” (Positions in the Life World, pdf p. 116)

Benjamin Buchloh, “A Conversation with Martha Rosler” (Positions in the Life World, pdf p. 2)

Allan Gilbert, “The Street Is a Collage: An interview with Martha Rosler” (E)

Martha Rosler, “Secrets from the Street: No Disclosure” (Positions in the Life World, pdf p. 106)

Berthold Brecht, “On Form and Subject-Matter” (E)

Media Farzin, “Still Here: An Interview With Martha Rosler and Anton Vidokle” http://www.artinamericamagazine.com/news-opinion/conversations/2009-09-09/interview-with-martha-rosler-and-anton-vidokle/

Martha Rosler, “Secrets from the Street: No Disclosure” (S)

Krzysztof Wodiczko, “Homeless Vehicle Project”

April 12: Urban space, public art and social practice | Quick workshop for reading project

April 14: Reading Project due, ~5 presentations from volunteers


Week 4 The Everyday

Martha Rosler, “For an Art against the Mythology of Everyday Life” (DD)

Martha Rosler, “Domination and the Everyday” (Positions in the Life World, pdf p. 104)

Martha Rosler, “A Simple Case for Torture, or How to Sleep at Night” (Positions in the Life World, pdf p. 113)

Martha Rosler, “Monumental Garage Sale” and “Traveling Garage Sale” (Positions in the Life World, pdf p. 65)

Martha Rosler, “Domination and the Everyday” (S)

Martha Rosler, “A Simple Case for Torture, or How to Sleep at Night” (S)

Martha Rosler, “Traveling Garage Sale” (S)

Mindy Faber, “Suburban queen” (S)

Martha Rosler, “Some Observations on Women as Subjects in Russia” (E)

Beatrice von Bismarck, “Generating Space: Martha Rosler’s representational processes” (E)

April 19: Daily Practice | Collect reading journals

April 21: The Everyday, Ideology, and Power | Return reading journals


Week 5 Artist/Woman

Martha Rosler, “The Figure of the Artist, the Figure of the Woman” (DD)

Martha Rosler, “Vital Statistics of a Citizen, Simply Obtained” (Positions in the Life World, pdf p. 98)

Linda Montano, Interview with Martha Rosler (E)

Martha Rosler, “Vital Statistics of a Citizen, Simply Obtained” (S)

Martha Roser, “Losing: a conversation with the parents” (S)

Linda Montano, “Anorexia Nervosa” (S)

Fronza Woods, “Killing time” (S)

Richard Meyer, “Feminism uncovered: Richard Meyer on the WACK! catalogue” http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0268/is_10_45/ai_n27500357/

Lydia Brawner, “Linda Montano, Anorexia nervosa and an art of hunger” (E)

April 26: Beauty & Consumerism

April 28: Body & Food


Week 6 Recipe Art

Martha Rosler, “The Art of Cooking: A Mock Dialogue between Julia Child and Craig Claiborn” (Positions in the Life World, pdf p. 90)

Martha Rosler, “Romances of the Meal” (E—ok to skim! Look at structure & concept)

Martha Rosler, “IMG MGMT: Woman in Kitchen,” http://www.artfagcity.com/2009/08/31/img-mgmt-woman-in-kitchen/

Martha Rosler, “The East Is Red, The West Is Bending” (S)

Edith Zimmerman, “Women Laughing Alone with Salad,” http://thehairpin.com/2011/01/women-laughing-alone-with-salad/

May 3: Domestic Space & Alienation | Quick workshop for writing project

May 5: Food, Class, Labor | Writing Project Due, ~5 presentations from volunteers (MFA show @ DARC)


Week 7 Recipe Art 2

Alexander Alberro, “The Dialectics of Everyday Life: Martha Rosler and the Strategy of the Decoy” (Positions in the Life World, pdf p. 28)

Helen Molesworth, “House Work and Art Work” (E)

Martha Rosler, “Kitchen Economics: The Wonder of (White) Bread” (Positions in the Life World, pdf p. 94)
Martha Rosler, “Global Taste: A Meal in Three Courses” (Positions in the Life World, pdf p. 114)

Martha Rosler, “Semiotics of the Kitchen” (Positions in the Life World, pdf p. 97)

Martha Rosler, “Semiotics of the Kitchen” (S)

Martha Rosler, “Semiotics of the Kitchen: An Audition” (S)

Martha Rosler, “A Budding Gourmet” (S)

Suzanne Lacy, “Learn where the meat comes from” (S)

Nina Sobell, “Hey! Baby! Chickey!” and “Chicken on Foot” (S)

Andi Sutton, “Semiotics of the Sale” http://vimeo.com/9050255

May 10: Recipe Art | Collect reading journals

May 12: Contemporary Recipe Art | Return reading journals


Week 8 Photography

Martha Rosler, “War and Metaphors” (DD)

Martha Rosler, “Post-Documentary, Post-Photography” (DD)

Martha Rosler, “In, around, and afterthoughts (on documentary photography)” (DD)

Catherine de Zegher, “Passionate Signals: Martha Rosler’s Flowers in the Field of Vision” (Positions in the Life World, pdf p. 123)

“Martha Rosler in Conversation with Molly Nesbit and Hans Ulrich Obrist” (E)

Don Gill, Review of Martha Rosler, 3 Works (E)

Inka Schube, “A Different Kind of War Reporting” (E)

Richard Meyer, “Home Delivery” (E)

Martha Rosler, “Bringing the War Home: House Beautiful 1967-1972 new series 2004” (E)

Lyn Blumenthal, “Women with a Past” (S)

May 17: War Photography

May 19: Documentary Photography


Week 9 Photography & Final Project Planning

Martha Rosler, “Notes on Quotes” (DD)

Martha Rosler, “Image Simulations, Computer Manipulations: Some Considerations” (DD)

Allan Sekula, “Dismantling Modernism, Reinventing Documentary” (E)

Martha Rosler, “Lee Friendlander, an Exemplary Modern Photographer” (DD)

May 24: Finishing up photography | Quick workshop for eating project

May 26: Present work for critique/development | Eating Project Due


Week 10 Video Art

Martha Rosler, “Video: Shedding the Utopian Moment” (DD)

Annette Michelson, “Solving the Puzzle” (Positions in the Life World, pdf p. 78)

Silvia Eiblmayer, “Martha Rosler’s Characters” (Positions in the Life World, pdf p. 67)

Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, “From Some Four Gadget Video to Agit Video: Notes Recent on Video Works” (E)

May 31: Reflecting on video art, historical contexts for video art

June 2: Final Project Presentations (in progress) | Collect reading journals


Final exam is scheduled for Wednesday, June 8, 7:30–10:30 P.M. Your final project is due at this time. There is no final exam for this class, but please keep this time available. Unless our class shrinks dramatically in size, we will need to meet to give presentations.



(DD) = Decoys and Disruptions

(Positions in the Life World, pdf) = An out of print show catalog which I xeroxed nearly in its entirety! Syllabus lists .pdf pages, but in your papers, cite book pages. Available online at ecommons.ucsc.edu.

(E) = Available online at ecommons.ucsc.edu, usually named by title

(S) = Screening




The European Graduate School has a great page of links related to Rosler, lots of interviews, etc., that we won’t have time for in class. You might find some of them useful for your work: http://www.egs.edu/faculty/martha-rosler/links/

I’ve created an image group in ArtStor, accessible through UCSC networks (you might need to register with a UCSC address). Find it in the folder marked “FDM162Rosler.” I’ll show you how to access ArtStor in class.

Rosler taught a seminar on video art at the New Museum; her screening list is fantastic: http://www.e-flux.com/shows/view/5160