Room 3

After the simple, abstract forms of Minimalism, Room 3 marks a return to the use of the human figure and a move towards a greater political and social engagement. With the increasing momentum of the feminist movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s, American artists Adrian Piper and Martha Rosler, and the Austrian VALIE EXPORT, used photography and video to explore issues of identity and the body. Through a series of performances in which she herself became the art object, Piper analysed her social position as an artist, a woman and an African-American. For example, in Catalysis III 1970, she strolled through the streets of Manhattan displaying the sign ‘WET PAINT’ on her white sweater, provoking disdainful reactions from passers-by, as a metaphorical enactment of xenophobia. EXPORT, in her series From the Portfolio of Doggedness 1968, used her body in experiments aimed at unravelling conventional female and male roles. In Rosler’s video Semiotics of the Kitchen 1975, a rebellious and humorous parody of a cooking demonstration, the artist investigates how the system of male, capitalist-dominated culture permeates everyday life. In her Vital Statistics of a Citizen, Simply Obtained 1977, a woman becomes an object to be systematically classified when she is measured, part by part, by a man in a white coat.