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"Bringing the War Home": Visual Aftermaths and Domestic Disturbances
The Department of Gender & Sexuality Studies Presents:
"Bringing the War Home": Visual Aftermaths and Domestic DisturbancesCo-sponsored by the Departments of Art History, Comparative Literature, Film & Media Studies, and History
and the UCI Initiative to End Family Violence
At the close of the First Gulf War, feminist architectural historian Beatriz Colomina wrote that "war today speaks about the difficulty of establishing the limits of domestic space." That conflict of 1990-91 is most often cited as the first to pull the waging of war fully into the digital age and therefore into a blurring of boundaries of all kinds. Yet, most modern wars have introduced technological innovations that transform social relations and modes of communication and representation. In this paper I want to focus on a period that includes the Vietnam War (1955-1975) and extends into the "War on Terror" through a consideration of Martha Rosler's photo collage series "House Beautiful: Bringing the War Home" (1967-2008). The technique of photomontage reinforces the artist's emphatic effort to bring together seemingly incommensurable elements—images of exquisite domestic interiors, glamourous consumer commodities, and landscapes and bodies damaged by warfare. Literally bringing wars waged by the United States throughout this long durée into the hyper commodified environment of fashion layouts and magazine advertisement, Rosler demonstrates the the impossibility of limiting domestic space, an impossibility that challenges representation across formats and practices—televisual, photographic, cinematic, social media, analogue, digital, etc. Such disturbances of "here" and "there," "now" and "then," resonate as powerful "aftermaths" of wars visible and invisible, always already underway.