martha rosler interviewd by m k harikumar
martha rosler[read more]
MKH: 1] Culture is the commodity that sells all the others— can you evaluate the range of this sentence in the contemporary world of art or literature?
MR: This remark was made by the French Situationists back in the mid-1960s. I cited it this past year in an article and lecture I put together about the role of culture in the new urban planning around the globe. The intent behind my doing so was to point out that the general reason advanced in the effort to persuade publics and political constituencies of the rightness of some proposed action or measure has to do with preserving or enhancing some element of values or cultural goods even when naked economic self-interest is at stake.
2]Is there any significance to meta narratives or Historical meanings?
MR: Anyone who proclaims the disappearance of meta-narratives or of historical meanings is merely making some sort of polemical point. To call attention to, or to tease out, metanarratives is to point to the more abstract meaning of historical descriptions and to read from them long-term historical trends. We become able to see the subtext or unstated portion of the narrative that is either purposely suppressed or taken for granted. Of course, meta-narratives are only prognostications; they may or may not be true!
3]How do you consider or connect the term 'Culturalization ' to politics and contemporary entertainment business?
MR: Culturalization as I see it is a term that applies to all elements of a society’s culture, whether commercialized or not. It refers to the recasting of political struggles, such as for equal access to social goods such as housing, education, clean water and so on, as cultural demands. Elements of commercial culture, including the entertainment industry, have managed to colonize our imaginations to an ever increasing degree, so that cultural elements that are deeply embedded in the normal life of society are displaced by things that originate elsewhere and exist primarily to make money.
4]What is your cultural identity?
MR: I am not sure under what conditions it proves useful to announce a cultural identity.
5]George Yudice once said that culture is a natural resource. is it mean creativity has lost its novelty?
MR: I do not presume to speak for George Yudice, but I would guess he means rather that culture is an indivisible part of human societies.
6]what happened to the concepts like Anarchism and Absurdism.?
MR; The various ‘occupation” movements that have been instituted primarily in Europe and the Untied States over the past year or so have shown that anarchism has re-emerged as a movement with some purchase on the political imagination of a huge number of people who have felt betrayed by their respective political governments, parties and processes.
Absurdism is a close relative of existentialism, and it suggests the inability of human beings to finally align their goals and imaginations with the objective facts of existence. Yet people must go on. Absurdism is a very different sort of philosophy from that animating the Occupy movements, which have a strong presence of artists and other cultural workers, but who do not seem to be laboring under the particular kind of defeatism that European intellectuals understandably suffered in the 20th century, particularly in the period after the Second World War The performative quality of these movements is somewhat reminiscent of Absurdist theater, but only in its derisive and satirical relation to the workings of the everyday world, not in respect to the possibility of changing it. In other words, they are more activist that absurdist, more determinedly hopeful about the course of human affairs than .
7] is there any importance in the study and evaluation of old texts , old books, art forms?
MR: history is of the utmost importance; there is a famous saying to the effect that those who are ignorant of history are doomed to repeat it. Human society grows through continuities and also through considered evaluation of past mistakes. Old literature and art, at the same time, are a vital part of the human heritage and speak to us across ages, even though their meanings may be made anew with each new era.
8]What is the authenticity and future of artwork?
MR: I don’t think it is possible to make predictions about the future of art, or art work, because art is intrinsic to human societies, even if at certain stages it goes by another name! The authenticity of art is a trickier question, but it is the opposite of the matter addressed in the next question, which is the Inauthenticity of much cultural production, especially commercial efforts. Art (including music) is the one realm where we continually seek to find an authentic expression of human longing; the frustrations of the age lead to postmodern doubt, but we need not end there, although I would still maintain that I am 90% a postmodernist. (See question 12—for the other 10%, please see the answer to question 11.)
9]You quoted George Burns, “The secret of acting is sincerity. If you can fake that, you've got it made.”
Can you relate this to contemporary Television Program?
MR: Audiences adore being convinced by highly convincing portrayals of real emotions by professional actors and politicians, even at the moment that they also would have to acknowledge that they are aware of the fact that authenticity is being “performed.” This partly accounts for the popularity of apparently unscripted television programs that are often called “reality television.” No matter how much it is revealed that the content of these execrable shows are manipulated and even scripted, the public chooses to hide its eyes from the truth.
10]What should be the aspiration of a writer in this new technologically acknowledged era?
MR; The aspiration of any writer can only be to tell the best stories she possibly can, with the most truth value and the most appropriate use of the chosen medium, which is language.
11] Do you agree with the statement' Post Modernism is dead'?
MR: First we must ask if postmodernism was ever alive. But seriously, postmodernism was and remains a dust mote in the eye of modernism, a certain degree of hesitation and trembling in the face of cultural breakdown, economic decay, a mixing up of narratives of identity and difference, of center and periphery, some fo which you have alluded to in your questions.
These changes cast doubt on the capacity of modernist utopianism to renegotiate the movement from here to there, from present to future. Postmodernism remains a corner, a spark, within modernism that worries about the impossibility of fixing meaning, choosing a path toward truth or the absolute.