Martha Rosler


Source: MoMA website

Watching Semiotics of the Kitchen proved greatly influential on my ideas process- Rosler's feminist (parody?) stance seemed slightly similar to Mona Hatoum's in that she presents the domestic kitchen space as a place of oppression, in this instance naming kitchen implements that symbolically entrap women in the "happy housewife" role. The semiotics in the film operate on several levels; on one hand the implements are symbolic of female repression within domesticity, yet on another her body itself becomes a symbol in the final few letters of the alphabet. The words she shouts out are also semiotics for the objects, and so in the j-cloth pieces I embroidered I want to point out how words and letters used in this performance are symbols themselves.

"When the woman speaks, she names her own oppression." In this sense Rosler is referring to the kitchen implements, yet she has also said of this work "I was concerned with something like the notion of 'language speaking the subject,' and with the transformation of the woman herself into a sign in a system of signs that represent a system of food production, a system of harnessed subjectivity" - summarising the complex order that is enforced throughout domestic life and the human use of language as a whole. 

© Molly Jaqueline Lea Turner, all rights reserved