Martha Rosler Reads 'Vogue', 1982

Martha Rosler did this live performance for Paper Tiger Television, a public-access cable channel created in 1981 in New York as an open and experimental media collective. For this programme, Rosler deconstructed the messages of the famous fashion magazine Vogue and its advertising.

Sitting at a small dressing table, Rosler turns the pages of the magazine while commenting on them. Applying a critical gaze to this type of publication that reduces women to mere objects of desire, Rosler reveals the working conditions sustaining the fashion industry. The artist adopts the conventional codes of a television presenter, leafling through the magazine, while the camera moves from her face to images published in Vogue alternating with images of a sweatshop in Asia. Music by Blondie is in stark contrast to the atmosphere in the factory, while a crawling message on the screen contrasts the wages of Asian sweatshop workers with those of fashion models. Faced with the magazine images, Rosler asks: ‘What is Vogue? What is fashion? It’s glamour, excitement, romance, drama, wishing, dreaming, winning, success.’ The work ends with an image of the artist taking her make-up off in front of the mirror to a piece by Schubert.

Technical details

Original title:
Martha Rosler Reads 'Vogue'
Registration number:
Rosler, Martha
Date created:
Date acquired:
MACBA Collection. Barcelona City Council long-term
Object type:
Single-channel video, color, sound, 25 min 45 s
MACBA Collection. Barcelona City Council long-term loan
© Martha Rosler
It has accessibility resources:

The MACBA Collection features Catalan, Spanish and international art and, although it includes works from the 1920s onwards, its primary focus is on the period between the 1960s and the present.

For more information on the work or the artist, please consult MACBA's Library. To request a loan of the work, please write to colleccio [at] macba.cat.

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I like to work with what is often called "cultural heritage", but the materials that I use are banal and clichéd, like sugar blocks, doors, couscous, rugs, official documents.
Latifa Echakhch