Martha Rosler. If It’s Too Bad to Be True, It Could Be DISINFORMATION. 1985. Gift of the artist and Galerie Nagel, Berlin
In these videos from the 1960s to the 1980s, the conventions of corporate broadcast television were turned into critical tools. Exploiting video technology’s ability to record and reshape, artists inserted their works into communication networks, disrupting television’s relentless flow of information in order to probe the medium’s seeming neutrality.
Training the camera on the human figure, these video works explore the increasingly entangled links between private actions, personal identity, and the public sphere.
The artists in this program confront the power dynamics between audience and performer. Co-opting the face-to-face format of television interviews and news reports, they speak directly to the camera, assume alternate personalities, or invite audience feedback, revealing the screen to be a threshold between often conflicting realities.
These artists experiment with video formats and networks to reflect on personal history and experience—grappling with the intimate consequences of displacement, occupation, war, and labor.
Using methods of documentation, appropriation, fiction, and performance, the artists featured here confront the experience of war—and challenge its depiction in mass media.
These works used—or even invented—video and telecommunications networks to create new modes of connection, collective experience, and assembly.
In these works, artists actively rethink cultural identity in the age of electronic communication. Their strategies include challenging the tropes of traditional ethnographic documentary, questioning the presumption of a seamlessly networked world, and using video technology to reconsider historical signs and emblems.
Artists have used and misused video technology since it first emerged, countering the visual norms of commercial television and mass media with humor, anger, and subversion.
These works bear witness to histories of conflict, invasion, and insurrection. In preserving the memories of those “who dared to record,” as Harun Farocki put it, they invite viewers to consider the ways in which historic change is witnessed, relayed through media, and shaped by media itself.
The exhibition is made possible by Hyundai Card.
Leadership support is provided by the Jill and Peter Kraus Endowed Fund for Contemporary Exhibitions.
Major funding is provided by The International Council of The Museum of Modern Art, the Wallis Annenberg Director's Fund for Innovation in Contemporary Art, and the Thomas H. Lee and Ann Tenenbaum Endowed Fund.
Additional support is provided by the Annual Exhibition Fund. Leadership contributions to the Annual Exhibition Fund, in support of the Museum’s collection and collection exhibitions, are generously provided by the Sandra and Tony Tamer Exhibition Fund, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, Jerry I. Speyer and Katherine G. Farley, Eva and Glenn Dubin, the Kate W. Cassidy Foundation, Anne Dias, Kenneth C. Griffin, Alice and Tom Tisch, the Marella and Giovanni Agnelli Fund for Exhibitions, Mimi Haas, The David Rockefeller Council, The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art, Kathy and Richard S. Fuld, Jr., The International Council of The Museum of Modern Art, Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis, and Jo Carole and Ronald S. Lauder. Major contributions to the Annual Exhibition Fund are provided by Emily Rauh Pulitzer, The Sundheim Family Foundation, and Karen and Gary Winnick.