10 Semiotics of the "Semiotics of the kitchen"

Today's art students and their re-enacted assignments

Screenshot from: http://www.ubu.com/film/rosler_semiotics.html

inspired by  in response to answer to appropriation parody mocking interpretation 
 re-enactment reshaping

There is a limited approach to what is to be perceived as art studentship practice. There is also a largely spread common sense among art students to which by making "interpretations" of works of art from the past they are actually defining an artistic style, taste and skill. Indeed, I agree that it is a very knowledgeable exercise to take famous bits of art history and reshape them for a new meaning while also doing your assignment papers for your classes. But students should be already taking one step further and understand that this type of mimetic, "wannabe artist by referencing other famous artists" practice isn't doing them good for very long.

I believe that every art student is by now familiar with all those Warholian colorful replicas overexposed worldwide, from fine art classes student "re-interpretations" to pop-art exhibition stores, t-shirts, mugs, earrings, or even fancy night club wall paintings. That is an example of how extremely popular a work of art can become until it loses its original aura, an aura that you as a student might identify as pretty valuable and close to your personal practice and might want to exploit at some point.

Of course, the more you read as a student, the more you want to be unique and rather grow an individual approach towards your own practice and not just "copy" what has been made already. The challenge is much bigger in this case, since you will develop a refined taste in cultural references which, eventually, will raise the quality of your practice as a student, but which, at the same time, may qualify you as an arty dazzler.

So what happens to all the art students who want their works to be smart, brilliant and of cultural value by positioning themselves in an appropriated historical timeframe? Do they succeed or do they fail in choosing what to get inspired from?

Following is a list of 10 interpretations found on YouTube addressing the one and only Martha Rosler's "Semiotics of the kitchen" performance from 1975. Not being a very popular video among the uneducated audience, the choice of "re-enacting" this work of art might turn out quite catchy. But is it?

This is not a critique of this sort of student practice and should by no means be regarded as something pejorative towards art students. It is rather a quick analysis and example of how, chronologically, throughout the past 2 years, students can perform the same type of "homework" practice, based on the FACT of re-interpreting something rather than on the actual essence of interpretation.

1. Semiotics of the Art Student, published on  May 22, 2008
This film is a new twist on the classic pice of video art, "Semiotics of the Kitchen" by Martha Rosler. This film pokes fun at life as an art student, and all that is expected from us.

2. Semiotics of the college student, published on May 22, 2008 
Inspired by martha Rosler's Semiotics of the Kitchen, this film exposes the shallow objects and activities that college students are retrained by, often which they assume actually give them freedom.

3. Semiotics of the Setbuild, published on August 27, 2008
The video was inspired by Martha Rosler's video 'Semiotics of the Kitchen'.

4. Norma - "Semiotics of the Kitchen (Pussycat Dolls Remix)"published on January 26, 2009
Re-interpretation of Martha Rosler's "Semiotics of the Kitchen" / Performance by Norma at the Vancouver Art Gallery, November 28, 2008.

5. Semiotics of the bathroom, published on March 03, 2009

6. Semiotics of Beauty, published on March 29, 2009
Video art for my New Media class - inspiration from Martha Rosler's "Semiotics of the Kitchen" This is the final cut version of the piece. I had some volume issues with the first one and had to re-shoot it.

7. Semiotics of the kitchen, published on July 23, 2009

8. Semiotics of the kitchen, published on October 10, 2009 

9. Semiotics of Beauty, published on October 28, 2009
This is an answer to Martha Rosler's "Semiotics of the Kitchen" (1975). Rosler's video is based on the myth of the "Feminine Mystique," proposing that the proper place for a woman is the home and her proper role is "the house wife." Betty Friedan wrote her seminal piece on this theory in 1963. Naomi Wolf wrote the "Beauty Myth" in 1991 to call attention to the fact that while the myth of the separate sphere has almost fallen away in the 20th century, the myth of beauty has arrived to take its place. Where once women were loved if they could cook, clean and have children, now women are loved for their beauty. Thus, women are no longer defined by the language of the kitchen; they are rather defined through the language of the beauty industry. Further, this video is proposing that the beauty industry, beyond having a set of defined rules for aspiring beauties to follow, has a system of language that communicates far more effectively, is far more colorful, and is far more widespread than the myth of the separate sphere. Women are trapped in what Wolf terms "The Iron Maiden." Only by deconstructing such myths and working our way outside the box of the beauty myth can women find true liberation.

10. Semiotics of the kitchen, published on May 11, 2010


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