House Beautiful: Bringing the War Home, 1967 - 1972

Basel 2016
Mitchell-Innes & Nash
Photography
Martha Rosler’s iconic series consists of 20 photomontages conceived in the 1960s and 70s during a time of increased intervention by the United States military in Vietnam. Combining pictures of Vietnamese citizens mutilated by war taken from LIFE magazine, with images of the homes of wealthy Americans published in House Beautiful, Rosler made literal the description of the ‘living-room war,’ a term used in the United States to describe how Americans perceived the ongoing bloodshed in Southeast Asia – that is, as televised news reports from the comfort of armchairs. By urging viewers to reconsider the ‘here’ and ‘there,’ Rosler's activist photomontages reveal the extent to which the collective experience of war can be shaped by images. Significantly, the photomontages are actually color photographs of original collages, thus keeping the issue of the handmade at a distance. Made during the height of the war, they were originally disseminated in underground newspapers and on flyers and were, in part, made as a response to the artist’s frustration with media images, reporting techniques, and even some anti-war propaganda.