Martha Rosler

I was recommended to view the work of Martha Rosler by my tutor, in relation to my use of titles in Assignments One and Three.

I had actually written a little on this in my response to the feedback for Assignment  One…

‘Martha Rosler – The Bowery in Two Inadequate Descriptive Systems

I found Martha’s explanation of her work thought provoking. Her way of addressing the whole ‘find a bum’ mentality to certain types of photography strikes me as enlightened. There are questions of ethics when shooting poverty for personal gain. She addresses this by removing any question of exploitation, excluding images of the poverty stricken from their settings, and replacing them with their words.

This gives me many things to think about, aesthetically, and conceptually.’  Challis, S (2016)

Some time has passed since I wrote this response to what I saw when looking at Rosler’s work, and my view has crystalised somewhat.

To be honest, and ignoring the images themselves, I don’t like this way of incorporating text with imagery. These are not, to my mind at least, titles. They are providing a context for the image, using the language of those who inhabit the places depicted. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that if the context or purpose of the images aren’t clear without more than a very simple title, that the images don’t do their job on their own… they are powerful images. What I do think though is that together with the text, this strikes me as less ‘photography’ and more ‘illustrated storytelling’ or something like that.

To my mind, a title gives you a clue… pointer to begin your own interpretation of an image. When you add a whole mass of words on a separate page, it is art, most certainly, but is it photography? However highly regarded it may be, I do not wish to create similar works, or be influenced by them.



Challis, S (2016) Reflection Following Tutor Feedback  At (Accessed 23/03/2017)

Rosler, M (1974-75) Whitey Museum of American Art At (Accessed 23/3/2017)