Semiotics of the Kitchen, 1975

One of Rosler’s best-known works, in this video the artist is shown in front of a kitchen counter displaying various utensils in alphabetical order, starting with an apron and ending with a tenderiser. Rosler adopts the role of an ‘anti- Julia Child’, the popular American TV chef who is credited with bringing French cuisine to the U.S. public in the 1960s. As suggested by the ironic title and Rosler’s sometimes aggressive behaviour as she demonstrates the function of each object, a lexicon of domestic utensils is transformed into one that foregrounds anger and frustration. As Rosler herself maintains: ‘When the woman speaks, she names her own oppression.’

As in many other of her works, the private yet universal world of the kitchen is seen as the ideal place for deconstructing women’s traditional role. Almost thirty years after creating Semiotics of the Kitchen, in 2003 Rosler announced an open call at the Whitechapel Gallery, London, for a re-staging of the seminal performance and her culinary actions. In a kitchen stocked with cooking utensils, twenty-six women, including actresses, artists, curators and museum staff, participated in a collective action: one by one, they freely re-enacted Rosler’s original script, in a piece subsequently edited by the artist under the title Semiotics of the Kitchen: An Audition.

Technical details

Original title:
Semiotics of the Kitchen
Registration number:
Rosler, Martha
Date created:
Date acquired:
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation
Object type:
Audiovisual recording
Single-channel video, b/w, sound, 6 min 21 s
MACBA Collection. MACBA Foundation. Work purchased thanks to Rumeu Family
© 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.

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