Martha Rosler

IF YOU LIVED HERE . . . (1989/2022) by Martha Rosler

The installation is adapted from Rosler’s pivotal 1989 work, which consisted of three rotating exhibitions and four town hall meetings presented by the DIA Art Foundation at their 77 Mercer St. space. Since then, different versions and iterations of If You Lived Here … have been shown in over 20 venues in national and international locations.

The work at KAM refers primarily to the spaces, structures, and images from the 1989 installations but also includes documentation from some of the show’s more recent iterations. Each subsequent installation of If You Lived Here … highlighted information about its local communities’ conditions of homelessness. Our installation draws on the differences as well as the many similarities between New York City housing issues in 1989 and 2022. We also provide data about housing insecurity among City University of New York (CUNY) students generally and at Kingsborough Community College in particular. 

In February 1989, Rosler launched If You Lived Here … a series of gallery installations and presentations in New York City at Dia Art Foundation’s 77 Wooster Street location, as well as a cycle of four community town hall meetings at nearby 155 Mercer Street, which continued through May 1989. Using these installations and events to mount a collective effort, Rosler invited over 200 artists, activists, writers, community groups, and local school groups to participate and reflect on New York City’s unique problems of housing, homelessness, and gentrification. The first of the three-part exhibition, Home Front, focused on self-organized activism in response to displacement and gentrification; the second, Homeless: The Street and Other Venues, examined the visibility or invisibility of homelessness; and the final segment, City: Visions and Revisions, coordinated the efforts of architects and planning groups to explore new strategies and initiatives for urban planning. Beginning in 1992, different versions and iterations of If You Lived Here… have been shown in more than 20 venues worldwide, including St. Louis, Oxford, Birmingham, Vienna, Belfast, Rotterdam, London, Taipei, Madrid, Barcelona, Glasgow, and others. 

Martha Rosler, born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1943, is a conceptual artist who works in photography and photo text, video, installation, sculpture, and performance, in addition to her extensive writings about art and culture. Rosler’s work is centered on everyday life and the public sphere, often focusing on women’s experiences.  

Developing her political consciousness early when she protested the Cold War nuclear arms race at City Hall, she graduated from Brooklyn College in 1965. She completed her MFA at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) in 1974. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Rosler shifted between media but maintained a social and political critique in all of her work. She has lectured extensively, nationally and internationally, and taught photography and media, as well as photo and video history and critical studies, at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey, where she was a professor for thirty years. Both her work and her writings continue to be highly influential. If You Lived Here…, among the first exhibitions to focus on the subjects of homelessness and gentrification, was radical in both its form and content. It serves as an inspiration and touchstone for subsequent art projects that address these and related topics and is the centerpiece of Unhomeless NYC.

Research and design of the 2019-2022 data charts by Vicky Virgin of BFAMFAPhD

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