11 November 2007

You Couldn't Make This Stuff Up, Or Could You?

I have posted before about Martha Rosler and her series of photomontages "Bringing the War Home, House Beautiful" in which she inserts images of military personel and mayhem into what would normally be scenes of domestic banality. Rosler created the first series during the Viet Nam War and has resumed a second series with images from Iraq. Here is an example from the first series:

Red Stripe Kitchen from "Bringing the War Home,
House Beautiful (1967-72)" © Martha Rosler.

I find the way Rosler creatively juxtaposes public and private, personal and political, consumption and destruction, advertisisng and documentary and so forth in these works powerful and thought provoking. And I figued that her vision was able to bring together dminensions of experience that we typically work diligently to maintain as separate spheres. Then today my friend Susan pointed out a story on BBC4 on the anniversary of the Magnum Agency. Among the exemplary photos the BBC used to illustrate the story is this one:

NORTHERN IRELAND, 1973. The incongruities of
daily life in the urban war zone. For years, the people
of Northern Ireland have lived in a strange and strained
symbiosis with the occupying British army.
© Philip Jones Griffiths / Magnum.

It is hard to believe that Jones Griffiths was influenced by Rosler, or even that he'd seen her work. But, add color and a bit of glamour and his photograph could be one of hers (and, of course, the reverse). You an find an terrific interview (2003) with Jones Griffiths here.

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3 Comments:

Anonymous brendadada said...

Well, the war/occupation/nightmare of the 6 counties was the first thing I thought of when I saw Rosler's photos.

Maybe you had to've been there.

11 November, 2007 12:07  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

Hey Brenda, Hope all is well. I think that Rosler's work is most pointed for AMericans who, by and large, have never experienced war or occupation even though our government has been adept at undertaking various sorts of military operation elsewhere (remember that we generally no longer declare war in any formal sense, we just send the troops). I suspect that for those from elsewhere will, like you, find her work resonant in more direct ways.

11 November, 2007 18:10  
Blogger stanco said...

Rosler's photos are astute and satirical.
The photo by Griffiths emphasizes the irony of that particular conflict, while hinting at its overall madness.

When I was in Belfast in the early nineties, one could almost forget that it was a city under siege, as its citizens went about their "normal," everyday concerns. Then I laid eyes upon a solo British soldier patrolling a nearly deserted street, the look of absolute fear on his face as palpable as the head on a Guinness.

13 November, 2007 01:38  

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