Martha Rosler: My name is Martha Rosler, and we are looking at a body of work called House Beautiful, Bringing the War Home.
When I was a young person in the mid sixties, the United States had gotten itself into a war that shocked my whole generation. It started from a small action in Vietnam, and gradually got bigger and bigger and bigger, and it seemed to be beyond reason. But in addition, it was the first living room war, where we saw footage of battles, and huts on fire, and so on every evening at dinner hour broadcast by a television, into our living rooms.
I had been making some collages, photomontages based on the images of women in the media. And it occurred to me that I could use that same technique of a kind of collision in space about the war. So I began cutting things out and putting them together.
The series is called House Beautiful because it really is centered on the idea of domesticity and safety. But I also called the series Bringing the War Home because I am literally bringing images of the war into spaces having to do with our domestic life. I wanted the viewer to have a place to stand, so the montages are often in rooms or in other landscape settings. This is really important for me that you enter the image and see yourself standing there.
I saw a House Beautiful not as art. I want it to be agitational. I distributed it to the antiwar community as flyers, but there were no slogans. I didn't want to say “stop the war.” I didn't want to say anything. Just to have the images convey the message.