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Martha Rosler: The Bowery in Two Inadequate Descriptive Systems

In The Bowery in two inadequate descriptive systems (1974—75), Martha Rosler bridged the concerns of art with those of political documentary. The work, a series of twenty-one black-and-white photographs, twenty-four text panels and three blank panels, embraces the codes of the photo-text experiments of the period and applies them to the social reality of New York’s Lower East Side.

In this illustrated book, Steve Edwards carefully describes The Bowery and contextualises it in relation to the work of the San Diego Group, examines the prevailing view of the work as a critique of documentary, studies its relation to Jean-Luc Godard and other examples of political modernism, and concludes with a speculative insertion of The Bowery within the pastoral tradition.