Vital Statistics of a Citizen, Simply Obtained
Martha Rosler
Brief description of the work:
Measurement and evaluation of a woman's body by white-coated male examiners and three women assistants.
Materials, dimensions, duration:
Video, duration: 39:12 min, colour, sound
Location (venue & dates, public/ private):

1974 University of California, San Diego (performance),
1977 Video tape
since then frequently included in Martha Roslers exhibitions.

Audience information (size, mode of participation):
Originally a performance, Vital Statistics became widely known in its form as a video. The audience can view the documentation of a past process
Other information (reviews, collaborators, funders):

Video: Brian Connell. Post Production: John Baker. With: Phil Steinmetz, Darrell Westlake, Adele Shaules, Pam Wilson, Dana White, Martha Rosler

Vital Statistics of a Citizen was part of the 'Open systems' exhibition, Tate Gallery, London 2005

Floorplan, scheme:


Visual/ audio-visual reference:
Key theme(s):
Intense engagement with a body; intense awareness of physical presence; endurance; reconstructing hierarchies
Further context:

http://www.vdb.org/smackn.acgi$misc?clips/VITALSTATI.mov short online movie clip

Vital Statistics explores the objectification of a body that occurs by dividing and measuring it part by part and comparing it to statistics. This kind of objectification acts as a device to exert social control as it influences society's pre-dominant image of what makes a 'normal' body. The medical connotations (test lab environment) further objectify the body.

The excessive quantification of body data produced during the process of measuring ultimately provides no help to understand this human being. Quantification leads nowhere.