Rosler Chapter 2

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S.R. Is he allowed to take one photo of this installation, this environment? I'll just keep it in my archive. //Sure.// I think anyway... [...]

S.R. We are at Martha Rosler's house on the 1st of October, 2004. Martha Rosler is well-known as a photographer and interventionist conceptual artist. Maybe you will tell us something more about that. For the entrance I want to come to the essay that has just recently been published in Artforum that you wrote. In that essay you are coming exactly to the points that are interesting to me. I'm just quoting one sentence and maybe then we can take this as a starting point for our discussion: »In the present context, the political work of the late 60s through 70s – now purged of exigency and brought out of the closet by the market – may be evaluated differently. This work may be tinged with nostalgia to young artists likely to have encountered it in art-history classes, but it offers a starting point and a history to connect with, an ur-moment that all trends in art like to locate. What initially seemed attractive for its look becomes more compelling for its commitment.« This sentence for me brings a lot of issues. And in the next sentence you are coming to conceptual and other post-forms of art. Maybe we can use this as a starting point for our discussion on conceptual art. Do you consider yourself as first generation or second generation of conceptual art? It's just a question, it's not so important for the...

M.R. I don't have any idea, I never thought about that. How about one and a half? // That sounds interesting. // Definitely the Kosuthian and Art & Language people who I actually knew started talking that way before I did. So even the idea of it was something that came to me and I wasn't there in the planning councils and the early discussions. I would say, I was a post-pop artist... My critique of pop was its paranoic insistence on naiveté and disconnection from any kind of conceptual critique. And I think, what I realized with conceptual art was that there were other ways of being post-pop that didn't leave out a kind of intellectuality, critique, meta-critique and other ways of addressing art systems and language systems and social systems together. But I don't know what the second generation is. Maybe that's second generation.

S.R. I think all this dividing in generations is always a problematic thing //it's funny//, because it's putting something like a lineage and – right – an origin and an outcome and a goal; I think that's problematic. But I just want to touch it because it's interesting how the artists positioned themselves; because I know, that in the first generation, so-called first generation, in New York there were big fights going on: who did what first and who.

M.R. Those were the men. But they only started fighting... the fighting occured a little bit later before that nobody cared because in the beginning nobody was paying attention. But I don't find any of that interesting in the least. I do know, that if I have to take a stand, it's clear, that Art & Language itself saw Joseph Kosuth as something of a latecomer and that doesn't even address people from outside. And that's all I say about it because it's not interesting. And then I moved to California anyway.


Martha Rosler »