Secrets from the Street: No Disclosure was intended to be exhibited in a specific context. Martha Rosler made this video for the exhibition Public Disclosure: Secrets from the Street, held jointly in 1980 at the City Hall and the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco. A leaflet promoting the exhibition included the image of a street cleaner and the slogan: ‘It’s trash on the street, it’s art on the walls.’
The intersection of cultures and classes as exemplified by the street life of San Francisco’s Mission District here becomes Rosler’s focus of attention. A tourist street lined with shops and restaurants, also known for being a meeting point for lowrider car culture. The artist places a Super 8 camera inside a moving car to film the streets in the manner of video surveillance cameras. The graffiti and political messages on the street walls are reinforced by the artist’s voiceover reading one of her texts on alternative street culture as opposed to fake official culture. Her voice echoes the voice of the street directly asking the viewers: Que voit-on? Qu’entend-on dans cette vidéo? Without omitting the filmic condition of the viewer, allusions to street culture reflect on the problematic dialogue between cultures with messages such as: ‘You can’t know a culture by coming to visit, you can see its “facts” but you cannot see its meaning.’ As for the ‘secrets’ in the title, the artist displays a true polysemic nature in the audio that accompanies the video: her voice reminds us of the meaning of the word ‘secret’, from the privacy of our lives to the secret operations of power and the untold parts of any culture. As Rosler states in the voiceover: ‘The secret is that to know the meaning of a culture you must know the limits of meaning of your own.’
Gold does not take on any dirt. And gold, just are diamonds, is an exalted material. It possesses such a degree of abstraction that it encounters you –if you use it artistically– on an already exalted level.