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 in front of a small dressing table, the artist turns the pages of the magazine while commenting on them. With a critical view of this type of publication that reduces women to a simple object of desire, Rosler also denounces the working conditions that sustain the fashion industry. These images alternate with others that show an unregulated garment workshop of Chinese workers in New York City. Blondie's music contrasts with the atmosphere of the sweatshop, while a message appears comparing what textile workers and fashion models are paid. Faced with the magazine's images, Rosler asks:

'What is Vogue?
It is photography, it is voyeurism, it is mystification, it is fascination, desire, and identification.
It’s the look, the pose, the skin of luxury.
It is money, it is luxury. It’s having it all, all, all!
It’s clothes, furs, perfume, men, expensive men! It is fashion.
It is art. It is architecture. It’s having it all.
It’s about being rich, about identifying with one’s class betters.
What is Vogue? It’s threat and the whiff of decadence.'

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:
Audiovisual recording
Single-channel video, color, sound, 25 min 45 s
MACBA Collection. Barcelona City Council long-term loan
© Martha Rosler
It has accessibility resources:

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