July 25, 2007 at 7:55am by MOCA
Hartford Wash: Washing, Tracks, Maintenance:Outside, 1973 performance at Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT, part of Maintenance Art Performance Series, 1973-74
Mierle Laderman Ukeles discussed her work in conjunction with WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution On Thursday, June 7, at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA.
After child-birth in 1968, Ukeles became a mother/maintenance worker and fell out of the picture of the avant-garde. In a rage, she wrote the Manifesto for Maintenance Art 1969, applied equally to the home, all kinds of service work, the urban environment, and the sustenance of the earth itself. She viewed the Manifesto as â€œa world vision and a call for revolution for the workers of survival who could, if organized, reshape the world.â€
Read the complete text below:
M A N I F E S T O
FOR MAINTENANCE ART 1969!
Proposal for an exhibition â€œCAREâ€
MIERLE LADERMAN UKELES
A.The Death Instinct and the Life Instinct:
The Death Instinct: separation; individuality; Avant-Garde par excellence; to follow oneâ€™s own path to deathâ€”do your own thing; dynamic change.The Life Instinct: unification; the eternal return; the perpetuation and MAINTENANCE of the species; survival systems and operations; equilibrium.B. Two basic systems: Development and Maintenance.
The sourball of every revolution: after the revolution, whoâ€™s going to pick up the garbage on Monday morning?C. Maintenance is a drag; it takes all the fucking time (lit.)
Development: pure individual creation; the new; change; progress; advance; excitement; flight or fleeing.
Maintenance: keep the dust off the pure individual creation; preserve the new; sustain the change; protect progress; defend and prolong the advance; renew the excitement; repeat the flight; show your workâ€”show it again keep the contemporaryartmuseum groovy keep the home fires burning
Development systems are partial feedback systems with major room for change.
Maintenance systems are direct feedback systems with little room for alteration.
The mind boggles and chafes at the boredom.D. Art:
The culture confers lousy status on maintenance jobs = minimum wages, housewives = no pay.
clean you desk, wash the dishes, clean the floor, wash your clothes, wash your toes, change the babyâ€™s diaper, finish the report, correct the typos, mend the fence, keep the customer happy, throw out the stinking garbage, watch out donâ€™t put things in your nose, what shall I wear, I have no sox, pay your bills, donâ€™t litter, save string, wash your hair, change the sheets, go to the store, Iâ€™m out of perfume, say it againâ€”he doesnâ€™t understand, seal it againâ€”it leaks, go to work, this art is dusty, clear the table, call him again, flush the toilet, stay young.
Everything I say is Art is Art. Everything I do is Art is Art. â€œWe have no Art, we try to do everything well.â€ (Balinese saying).E.
Avant-garde art, which claims utter development, is infected by strains of maintenance ideas, maintenance activities, and maintenance materials.
Conceptual & Process art, especially, claim pure development and change, yet employ almost purely maintenance processes.
The exhibition of Maintenance Art, â€œCARE,â€ would zero in on pure maintenance, exhibit it as contemporary art, and yield, by utter opposition, clarity of issues.II. THE MAINTENANCE ART EXHIBITION:â€œCAREâ€
Three parts: Personal, General, and Earth Maintenance.
A. Part One: Personal
I am an artist. I am a woman. I am a wife. I am a mother. (Random order).MY WORKING WILL BE THE WORK
I do a hell of a lot of washing, cleaning, cooking, renewing, supporting, preserving, etc. Also, (up to now separately I â€œdoâ€ Art. Now, I will simply do these maintenance everyday things, and flush them up to consciousness, exhibit them, as Art. I will live in the museum and I customarily do at home with my husband and my baby, for the duration of the exhibition. (Right? or if you donâ€™t want me around at night I would come in every day) and do all these things as public Art activities: I will sweep and wax the floors, dust everything, wash the walls (i.e. â€œfloor paintings, dust works, soap- sculpture, wall-paintingsâ€) cook, invite people to eat, make agglomerations and dispositions of all functional refuse.
The exhibition area might look â€œemptyâ€ of art, but it will be maintained in full public view.
B. Part Two: General
Everyone does a hell of a lot of noodling maintenance work. The general part of the exhibition would consist of interviews of two kinds.
1. Previous individual interviews, typed and exhibited.
Interviewees come from, say, 50 different classes and kinds of occupations that run a gamut from maintenance â€œman,â€ maid, sanitation â€œman,â€ mail â€œman,â€ union â€œman,â€ construction worker, librarian, grocerystore â€œman,â€ nurse, doctor, teacher, museum director, baseball player, salesâ€man,â€ child, criminal, bank president, mayor, moviestar, artist, etc., about:2. Interview Roomâ€”for spectators at the Exhibition:
â€-what you think maintenance is;
-how you feel about spending whatever parts of your life you spend on maintenance activities;
-what is the relationship between maintenance and freedom;
-what is the relationship between maintenance and lifeâ€™s dreams.
A room of desks and chairs where professional (?) interviewers will interview the spectators at the exhibition along same questions as typed interviews. The responses should be personal.C. Part Three: Earth Maintenance
These interviews are taped and replayed throughout the exhibition area.
Everyday, containers of the following kinds of refuse will be delivered to the Museum:
-the contents of one sanitation truck;Once at the exhibition, each container will be serviced:
-a container of polluted air;
-a container of polluted Hudson River;
-a container of ravaged land.
purified, de-polluted, rehabilitated, recycled, and conserved by various technical (and / or pseudo-technical) procedures either by myself or scientists.originally posted June 13, 2007
These servicing procedures are repeated throughout the duration of the exhibition.