Rosler conceived House Beautiful: Bringing the War Home as a protest against the Vietnam War. The artist seamlessly combined news photographs of violent battlefields in Vietnam with glossy advertisements for American luxury homes; layered images of soldiers with empty silhouettes of bodies; and spliced pictures of burials with those of military marches. By creating shocking contrasts between the destruction abroad and affluence at home, Rosler made visible the horrors of the “living-room war,” so called because the news of carnage in Southeast Asia only reached Americans via heavily filtered television reports. Rosler originally distributed her photomontages as flyers at anti-war demonstrations. “I saw House Beautiful not as art,” she later reflected. “I want it to be agitational.”
Gallery label from 2021.
Rosler conceived Bringing the War Home during a time of increased intervention in Vietnam by the United States military. Splicing together pictures of Vietnamese citizens maimed in the war, published in Life magazine, with images of the homes of affluent Americans culled from the pages of House Beautiful, Rosler made literal the description of the conflict as the "living-room war," so called in the USA because the news of ongoing carnage in Southeast Asia filtered into tranquil American homes through television reports. By urging viewers to reconsider the "here" and "there" of the world picture, these activist photomontages reveal the extent to which a collective experience of war is shaped by media images.
Gallery label from The Shaping of New Visions: Photography, Film, Photobook, April 16, 2012–April 29, 2013.