Rosler Chapter 3

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S.R. I wanted to ask you about this move to California. What does it mean for you? For us as a European outsider perspective, I have this cliché, maybe transported through Robert Smithson, that there is this big gap between the intellectual introverted East Coast human being and the more relaxed, filled with deadpan humor West Coast lifestyle.

M.R. Except for the last part I would have to agree; I don't know that they have either depth or humour. But I would say, that moving to California was a move to America from N.Y. – which is not quite America both geographically and in terms of its location off the coast of the Eastern Mainland, Eastern part of the mainland. And in terms of the culture of New York, particularly then was extremely different from the culture of southern California, where I moved. I think, that moving to America was to be confronted full on with the values that had brought us so many unpleasant things, like the Vietnam War, and to be confronted with forms of social value and anti-intellectuality that were not the norm; modes of address, personal relations that were built on a kind of a repressive impulse rather than a straightforward communicative one. If there could be such a thing. So for me it was an encounter with a country I always had kept at arm's distance, the one to which I officially belonged.

S.R. How long did you stay to live in California?

M.R:: Well, except for a few periods back here, it was twelve years, it was a really long time.

S.R. How do you see the two parts of America or the Non-America, New York, this time? Because you were travelling a lot through the world, through Europe, and other parts of the world. How is it for you? Because you have a different perspective on American society and the political behavior in the United States.

M.R. New York is still pretty disconnected from the culture of most of the United States, though there is a strong suburbanizing element here which goes along with a kind of negative social values and Republicanism, and it's fuelled by the usual cities', countries', now suburban split between respect for difference and intellectuality and instead a suburban desire for homogeneity and conformity and getting along, which is the same thing I said about my first encounter with the West Coast.

Martha Rosler »