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Martha Rosler Living Here Now

Home Front, installation detail, Dia Art Foundation, New York, NY, 1989.

On behalf of the homeless, the people of NY invite Donald & Ivana Trump to brunch at the Plaza
                —Flyer from If You Lived Here Still by Martha Rosler

I found a small crowd gathered around the decades-old invitation when I visited If You Lived Here Still by Brooklyn artist Martha Rosler last January. In part, Rosler’s exhibition at the New Foundation in Seattle serves as an archive of the artist’s traveling show on homelessness that began in 1989, and although there was much to see — photographs, newspaper articles, letters, protest invitations, infographics and statistical analyses — that small flyer posted on the wall appeared to resonate most with visitors that day. Maybe it was the backhandedness of its creation by protesters who could never afford to live in Trump’s luxury towers, or the unlikely image it conjured of the 2016 presidential candidate eating pancakes in a homeless encampment. Most certainly it demonstrates how loudly a show from over 20 years ago still echoes today. After experiencing the exhibit within our own local context, perhaps we will better hear a phrase Rosler first plastered across Times Square in 1989, now the title of her citywide project for Seattle: Housing Is a Human Right.

 

The exhibit If You Lived Here Still by Martha Rosler ran 28  January – 14 May 2016 at the New Foundation.