Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Semiotics of the Kitchen - Martha Rosler - 1975

From A to Z, Rosler "shows and tells" the ingredients of the housewife's day, giving us a tour that names and mimics the ordinary with movements more samurai than suburban. Rosler's slashing gesture as she forms the letters of the alphabet in the air with a knife and fork, is a rebel gesture, punching through the "system of harnessed subjectivity" from the inside out.

"I was concerned with something like the notion of 'language speaking the subject,' and with the transformation of the woman herself into a sign in a system of signs that represent a system of food production, a system of harnessed subjectivity." - Martha Rosler

“Non-material use-values are those goods produced within the housework process which have no material basis: affection, sexuality, companionship, “love,” and the like. These goods satisfy the individual’s non-material needs, which are as important for his/her reproduction as is a grilled steak or an ironed shirt….they are use-values for value.” -Leopoldina Fortunati from The Arcane of Reproduction

“To make the process of production and reproduction of labor-power function, other exchanges are also necessary. The most important of these “secondary” exchanges is that between the male worker and capital mediated by the female houseworker. This exchange and relation is required because the female houseworker’s reproduction cannot only consist of the use-values into which the wage can be transformed; it must also include the consumption of use-values which only the husband can and must produce. For although in this relation this housework is paid for by the wage, it must appear not so. Thus “love” enters the discourse, and the relation can be expressed in other non-money terms. Without love, capital would not be able to make this relation function, nor would it be able to isolate the male and female houseworker within the family.” -Leopoldina Fortunati from The Arcane of Reproduction

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