This project grew in part out of Martha Rosler's space problem: she simply had too many books crowding her home and studio. They covered the shelves, piled on the floors, and cascaded down the stairs. We offered her a solution. We asked her if we could borrow her library for a while, to open to the public in the form of a reading room at the e-flux space on Ludlow street. As an artist's library, her collection suggests multiple meanings and possibilities. She has constantly brought the familiar under closer examination, using text both as a representational strategy and descriptive tool. Given the uncommon diversity of her interests and influences, and their significance in the production of critical positions, we deemed it relevant to open her familiar - and occasionally obscure - sources to readers.
Comprising amore than 7,000 volumes selected from the books at her residence and studio in Brooklyn and academic office in New Jersey, the Martha Rosler Library is now accessible for public use through April 15, 2006. The contents range from political theory, art history and poetry to science fiction, mystery and children's books; they include periodicals, dictionaries, maps and travel books, as well as photo albums, posters, postcards and newspaper clippings. The bibliography, currently in process, can be accessed online and is available in the library. The library is primarily a reading room, not a lending library; a photocopier is available for making b/w and color copies.
Martha Rosler was born in Brooklyn, New York, where she now lives, after spending the 1970s in California. She works in video, photo-text, installation, sculpture, and performance, and writes on aspects of culture. She is a renowned teacher and has lectured widely, nationally and internationally. Rosler's work is centered on everyday life and the public sphere, often with an eye to women's experience. Recurrent concerns are the media and war as well as architecture and the built environment, from housing and homelessness to systems of transport. Reading rooms and libraries have featured in several of her projects, such as "Fascination with the (Game of the) (Exploding) (Historical) Hollow Leg" at the Sibell Wolle Fine Art Gallery in 1983, and "If You Lived Here..." at the Dia Art Foundation in 1989.
Her work has been seen in the Venice Biennale of 2003; the Liverpool Biennial and the Taipei Biennial (both 2004); as well as many major international survey shows, including Open Systems at the Tate Modern (2005). Her work has been included in the "Documenta" exhibition in Kassel, Germany, and several Whitney biennials, and she has had numerous solo exhibitions. She has been invited to participate in SkulpturProjecte07 in Münster, Documenta XII, and the Manifesta 6 School in Cyprus. A retrospective of her work, "Positions in the Life World," was shown in five European cities and at the International Center of Photography and the New Museum for Contemporary Art (both in New York), concurrently (1998-2000).
Rosler has published ten books of photography, art, and writing. Among them are Decoys and Disruptions: Selected Essays 1975-2001 (MIT Press, 2004, An October Book, in conjunction with the International Center of Photography), the photo books Passionate Signals (Cantz, 2005), In the Place of the Public: Airport Series (Cantz, 1997), and Rites of Passage (NYFA, 1995). If You Lived Here (Free Press, 1991) addresses her Dia project on housing, homelessness, and urban life. Several other books are in preparation.
Rosler was awarded the Spectrum International Prize in Photography for 2005. The prize was accompanied by a photo and video retrospective, "If Not Now, When?" at the Sprengel Museum in Hanover and NGBK in Berlin. Her solo exhibition, "London Garage Sale," was held at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London in early June 2006. She was recently awarded the Oskar Kokoschka Prize, Austria's highest award in the fine arts. Her solo exhibition, Kriegesschauplätze, appeared at Christian Nagel (Berlin) in January 2006. Her recent exhibition "Sous le pavé," at the University of Rennes, consists of a selection of her work on housing, homelessness, and the built environment, with a reading room on housing problems in the local area.
Martha Rosler Library
November 15, 2005 to April 15, 2006