Decoys and Disruptions
Selected Writings, 1975–2001
402 pp., 7 x 9 in, 64 b&w illus.
- Published: August 27, 2004
- Published: February 17, 2006
The first comprehensive collection of writings by Martha Rosler considers the intersection of art and politics, the operation of art systems, feminist art practices, and the media.
Decoys and Disruptions is the first comprehensive collection of writings by American artist and critic Martha Rosler. Best known for her videos and photography, Rosler has also been an original and influential cultural critic and theorist for over twenty-five years. The writings collected here address such key topics as documentary photography, feminist art, video, government patronage of the arts, censorship, and the future of digitally based photographic media. Taken together, these thirteen essays not only show Rosler's importance as a critic but also offer an essential resource for readers interested in the issues confronting contemporary art. The essays in this collection illustrate Rosler's ongoing investigation into means of exposing truth and provoking change, providing a retrospective of characteristic issues in her work.
Mixing analysis and wit, Rosler challenges many of the fundamental precepts of contemporary art practice. Her influential essay, "In, around, and afterthoughts: on documentary photography," almost single-handedly dismantled the myth of liberal documentary photography when it appeared. Many of the essays in this volume have had a similarly wide-ranging influence; others are published here for the first time. Illustrating the essays are 81 images by Rosler and other artists and photographers.
Martha Rosler's practice demonstrates that feminism is not a politics of the few but a politics of the many, and that gender inequality is neither distince from racial and class injustice nor separable from the politics of representation and power relations of the artistic field. Decoys and Disruptions constitutes a theory of activist art at its fiercest, most complex, and most urgent.
Linda Nochlin, Lila Acheson Wallace Professor of Modern Art, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University
Martha Rosler, one of the most important critical thinkers and artists of the present, becomes available in this collection of vitally important essays. Her work constitutes a major oeuvre in the analysis of the processes of power in our society—processes so embedded in the practices of daily life that we no longer se or know them. Her trenchant and lucid analyses of the relations between life worlds and art worlds is ever more timely in its historical depth and contemporary relevance.
Griselda Pollock, University of Leeds
For many years, and almost singlehandedly, Martha Rosler has provided a solid theoretical basis for critical studies in photography and video. This collection of her lucid essays is a useful compilation of her most important theoretical work. Seeing the essays (and a fascinating collection of photographs) together in this book, one is struck by the depth of her work: a unique blend of insight as critical clarity and art as idea.
DeeDee Halleck, independent film maker, and Professor Emeritus of Communications, University of California, San Diego