Semiotics of the Kitchen

Justin Seng
20 December 2019


The video work is reproduced on O for Other with the artist’s permission.


In 1975, Martha Rosler released the now-classic feminist video art ‘Semiotics of the Kitchen’. In the original piece, she transforms the tools of the kitchen into symbols of aggression and rage by replacing the domesticated docility embodied in the housewife-at-home with a violent enactment of the ways women traditionally use kitchen utensils. A knife, in her hand, became a menacing tool; a ladle used to spill imaginary soup in all directions; a space that represented domestic order was transformed into a site of resistance and messiness.

Justin Seng, a young Singaporean artist (who also wants to be a feminist), was wondering how she could position herself in the feminist canon too. Turning to the trusty Apple Photo Booth from his high school days, they asked his friend Kelvin if he would sit by his laptop to press record while they positioned himself in front of the self-facing camera to figure out what constituted a woman in Rosler’s lexicon.

Apparently, it’s with the click of a mouse on photo booth.



Justin Seng is a Singaporean artist who desires the Heteronormative dream sold to them by their government: Husband, HDB, Holiday. Unable to fulfill this KPI at this current juncture of his life, he instead spends a lot of time on instagram experimenting with what it takes to be a @sarongpartygal, wondering aloud how he can better decolonise (or is it decolorise?) his everyday life. If you know of an angmoh boyfriend that is the ideal candidate for a spousal visa you may contact her at sengjustin@hotmail.com, but for serious business enquiries only. O for Other receives a 0.0005% commission that goes to the upkeep and maintenance of the site. 

A PROJECT BY

Malaysia Design Archive
Visual Art Programme, UM

SUPPORTED BY