Losing: A Conversation with The Parents
Losing: A Conversation with The Parents
1977
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Taking the format of a soap opera or a TV documentary featuring victims’ relatives, Martha Rosler simulates an interview with the bereaved parents of a girl who starved herself to death. The term anorexia nervosa does not feature in the work, since in 1977, the year when the video was made, it was still largely unknown by the public at large. The text was published in the autumn of 1976 in Criss Cross Double Cross, a magazine from Los Angeles, and in Studio International in March 1977, and was subsequently adapted by Rosler for this video piece. In Losing: A Conversation with the Parents, Rosler worked with professional actors who were instructed to overact in a very mannered way. Interviewed in a plush sitting room, the scene combines theatricality (an unseen questioner talks to the young parents) with documentary elements showing photographs and texts from Criss Cross Double Cross. Besides acting as a critique of the language of television and a documentary on anorexia, Rosler invites viewers to make connections with other subjects: food as a political weapon and the responsibility of industrialised countries such as the United States for famine in the Third World. With the artist’s usual strategy, anorexia becomes a metonymy, a clue diverting the viewer’s attention in a different, yet closely linked direction. Losing: A Conversation with the Parents merges two contexts in which food is used as a weapon of political oppression: famine in large parts of the world as a result of economic domination, and self-inflicted starvation or anorexia as a result of social pressure. The dynamics of lying and self-imposed dieting are proof that the creation of a female subjectivity dictated by the ideals of contemporary culture are but another form of political oppression.

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original title
Losing: A Conversation with The Parents
year of acquisition
2008
type of object
Audiovisual recording
credits
MACBA Collection. Barcelona City Council long-term loan
registration number
R.3228
date
1977
fonds
MACBA Collection. Long-term loan of the Barcelona City Council
media
Single-channel video, color, sound, 18 min 39 s
Copyright
© Martha Rosler
original title
Losing: A Conversation with The Parents
registration number
R.3228
date
1977
year of acquisition
2008
fonds
MACBA Collection. Long-term loan of the Barcelona City Council
type of object
Audiovisual recording
media
Single-channel video, color, sound, 18 min 39 s
credits
MACBA Collection. Barcelona City Council long-term loan
Copyright
© Martha Rosler
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