Losing : A Conversation with the Parents, 1977

Bétacam SP, PAL, son, couleur

In this film, Martha Rosler presents a couple evoking the memory of their daughter and her problem with anorexia, a typically female and adolescent disease. Sitting on their couch in a chic, tidy lounge, their exchanges range from generalities about world hunger, details about agony through lack of food, to arguments to relieve their feelings of guilt... Their dismay is perceptible in the chaos of their statements. They start with childhood memories of their daughter, spliced with thoughts relating to her dream to become a model, and various facts that foreshadow the death of young girls on diets. The underlying portrait of corporeal conformity is drawn throughout the conversation. The mother says, “an ideal woman is a thin woman”. The constant to-and-fro between personal memories and media images shows the affect of the mechanism of social pressure on private lives. Their personal drama is only shown in relation to the world, without questioning their own involvement. As the sequences progresses, the allusion to their daughter’s death comes late in the piece, and is only explicit at the very end of the discussion, as though the reality of it has not been completely absorbed. At the end, the father tells the story of two young boys who were starving and died of overeating after breaking into a warehouse storing food. Finally, the impossibility of any reaction to their daughter’s drama is betrayed by their passivity in expressing these other dramas. Once again, Martha Rosler evokes the feminine condition in an extremist attitude inherent to consumer society.

Patricia Maincent