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In this series, House Beautiful: Bringing the War Home, the American artist Martha Rolser contrasts images of American domestic bliss with images of war, playing with general impressions or ideas fed by the media.

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Rosler was specifically interested in how reporting on the war in Vietnam in the 60s and 70s was experienced by the American public through television, often in relatively safe contexts in their living room. This series of photomontages attempted to ‘bring the war home’ to make people in the US realise how implicated they were in the war taking place on the other side of the planet. Rosler foregrounds the false division between “us” and “them,” between “here” and “there” and points towards how this separation is an illusion that the American public were politically and emotionally invested to maintain.

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The cutting and pasting of various images in each work serves to make these overlooked relations more apparent. Many of the figures and backgrounds you see here are taken from Life and other mainstream American magazines. The cutouts were reassembled then rephotographed, thereby reconnecting the war in Vietnam and the American home, two extremes of violence and comfort.

Rosler actually reprised the style and theme of this series by creating a kind of sequel, 30 years later, when the US led the war in Iraq.

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While addressing the same tensions, with these new photomontages, Rosler is also drawing attention to stereotypical and outdated ways of viewing women’s place within the home and domestic space. So while Rosler is responding to “images” of the war as distant and disconnected from American homes, she’s also responding to stereotypical “images” of women and their roles within these homes.

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Martha Rosler is an American artist born in 1943 and currently based in Brooklyn. Her work deals with separations between public and private spheres, exploring issues from everyday life, the media and architecture. Check out more of her work on her personal website.

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