Semiotics of the Kitchen

Martha Rosler

1975, 06:09 minutes, colour, english


Semiotics of the Kitchen is perhaps Rosler's best known video. In it, she glumly faces the video camera from behind a kitchen counter. Looking decidedly uncomfortable as she dons a fussy apron, she proceeds to handle, in alphabetical order, an array of kitchen utensils, announcing their names and miming their functions... "bowl... chopper... dish..."
Narratively, the development of these gestural variations reveals several semiotic readings of simple kitchen implements. They are first transformed into tools of labour, then agents of oppression. Finally, they are raised up as political weapons and emblems of revolution.
Semiotics of the Kitchen is a coolly furious piece of homicidal comedy.

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Critical Writing

I Say I Am: Women's Performance Video from the 1970's
by Maria Troy. Video Data Bank, 2012.
by Sholem Krishtalka. Canadian Art, Summer 2011, v. 28, no. 2.
by Unknown. Wack!: art and the feminist revolution, 2007. Los Angeles: The Moca L.A., 2007.
Stories to Tell: Autobiography and Narrative
by Jayne Wark. Radical Gestures: Feminism and Performance Art in North America, 2006. Montreal & Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2006.
Video Acts
by Catherine Elwes. Border Crossings, 2004, v. 23, no. 89.
Video Art: A Top Twenty
by John Slyce and Matthew Collings. Modern Painters, Summer 2000, v. 13, no. 2.
Corpus Loquendi: body for speaking, 1994. Halifax: Dalhousie Art Gallery, 1994.
Corpus Loquendi/Body for Speaking: Body-Centred Video in Halifax 1972-1982, 1994. Halifax: Dalhousie Art Gallery, 1994.
Sexuality and Video Narrative
by Chris Straayer. Afterimage, May 1989, v. 16, no. 10.
Interview with Martha Rosler
by Martha Rosler and Jane Weinstock. October, Summer 1981, v. 17.
Video is not television, Performance is not theatre
by Martha Fleming and Douglas Durand. Body Politic, June 1980, no. 64.
Developing Feminist Resources: The Work of Carolee Schneeman &...
by Jane Springer. Fuse, Jan. 1980, v. 4, no. 2.