Martha Rosler

(Brooklyn, New York, 1943)

Mexico series #4, 1981

23 x 30 cm

Rosler's solidarity with the Latin American democratic struggles of the 1970s is essential for understanding the politicization of her work. The revolutionary movements became the opposite side of the coin of 1980s neoliberalism. Similarly, the critical "reinvention" of documentary photography and the reaction against the first symptoms of the regressive political wave were part of the same ideological and aesthetic agenda. In hindsight, 1981 represented the end of the potentiality, openess, and experimentation of the 1970s (a product of post-1968 progressive public policies worldwide), and the effective beginnig of the Tatcher-Reagan era, wich determined the entire political and cultural landscape of subsequent decades. 

But, simultaneously to its historical edge, this exhibition raises important questions for today. As we enter the Trump era, the images from 1981 join the current moment of meaning and become active members of a conversation between the artist, the period of time in wich they were produced, and the minds of contemporary viewers. Even more so than before, we consume the world through images, and any response to them is rooted in our social knowledge of the world. That is to say, if we surround ourselves with images that emphasize the aesthetics and form a neoliberal society over their political dimension, they will also breed an imperialist and conformist sensibility across all aspects of cultural life. In this respect, this series offers us an archology of the present.