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"Odd Weeks: Martha Rosler - Three Transient Tenants at the Central Terminal"
2002-10-07 until 2002-10-20
Modern Museum
Stockholm, , SE

To create links between what appear to be entirely different worlds, entirely different spheres. That is the principle of the collage – two things torn from their contexts are combined and form a third – new meanings arise and the parts can never return to what they were. Martha Rosler’s method is to let different worlds meet to unsettle people’s usual way of differentiating between us and them, here at home and over there.

There is no universal culture – we must remember time and place, says Martha Rosler in one of her films from the early 1980s. Rosler has long been interested in the economic, political and social mechanisms that govern urban space – who controls it, what it looks like, how it is used, and by whom. These are enormous issues, which are largely ignored by most people until the local perspective is in focus. This also explains why she immediately became interested in the context of Moderna Museet and how it shifted from Skeppsholmen to Stockholm City – from an idyllic island far from the commercial bustle, urbanity and city traffic, to the multifaceted neighbourhood of the Central Station. New points of contact arise.

Many 20th century artists have been preoccupied by the relationship between art and society. How does one generate a dialogue between the Public Domain and the Art Space, which traditionally consists of white, minimalist halls created for aesthetic expression to be enjoyed in private isolation? Martha Rosler started working as an artist in the 1970s in the USA. Her work as an artist, teacher and writer is permeated by social and political awareness and has often dealt with subjects such as public space, architecture and housing, the media world, the relationship between Western culture and the so-called Third World, and also woman’s place in modern society. People’s living conditions often serve as the starting point for her art, which can be seen as a sort of artistic criticism of the system, often featuring a strong element of humour. Over the years, Rosler has used a wide array of techniques, such as video, photography, art criticism, mail art, performances and installations, and has also enacted social phenomena, such as “Monumental Garage Sale”. This event, which took place in an art gallery in San Diego in 1973, can be described as a monumental portrait of home and family life in southern California. A patchwork monument to consumer society or a metaphor for the human brain? The work has been staged a few times over the years.

At Moderna Museet, Rosler works with the concept of private and public space and focuses on how new networks are created in widely disparate activities within one and the same building. The networks of the art world, social networks or business teams building the right team spirit with a kick-off. We perceive a point where the spheres of the home, entertainment and art intersect. Our neighbours, the tenants of this former post office terminal at Klarabergsviadukten 61, are the Museum’s discussion partners during these Odd Weeks. On the ground floor, by the motorway, we find Convictus –a support organisation working without political or religious affiliaton with HIV-positive people with drug problems and also for the homeless. Next door is Race Town – Northern Europe’s largest indoor go-cart track! But we are all here on borrowed time – in a year, Klarabergsviadukten 61 has to be cleared for a large-scale hotel enterprise. These three “transient tenants” share a view of City Hall, but they also represent different levels of society, with different resources and different constituencies. For this project Martha Rosler creates similarly transient links and exchanges between them.

Cecilia Widenheim

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