Since 1977, Mierle Laderman Ukeles (HON 2019) has been the official, unsalaried artist-in-residence of the City of New York Department of Sanitation. Her artwork—blurring boundaries between labor and performance, system and spirit—unveils connections between feminism, work and workers, the city, and the environment. Among her key works are: Manifesto for Maintenance Art 1969! Proposal for an Exhibition “Care;” I Make Maintenance Art One Hour Every Day; Touch Sanitation; The Social Mirror; Ceremonial Arch Honoring Service Workers; Snow Workers’ Ballet, Echigo Tsumari; Unburning Freedom Hall; and LANDING at Freshkills Park (in process). Ukeles believes art creates freedom and asks whether we can design modes of survival—for a thriving planet, not an entropic one—that do not crush our personal and civic freedoms and silence the individual’s voice.
Ukeles has exhibited internationally, including at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; MoMA PS1, New York; Queens Museum, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel; Sharjah Biennial, United Arab Emirates; Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco; Wellcome Collection, London; Haus der Kunst, Munich; Art Institute of Chicago; Istanbul Biennial; Marabouparken Konsthall, Stockholm; Grazer Kunstverein, Graz, Austria; Manifesta 10, St. Petersburg, Russia; Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut. Her works are in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Art Institute of Chicago (promised gift); Migros Museum of Contemporary Art, Zurich; Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art; Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, Massachusetts; and Jewish Museum, New York. She is represented by Ronald Feldman Gallery in New York.
This lecture is presented in conjunction with the exhibition Re:Working Labor at SAIC's Sullivan Galleries from September 21–November 27, curated by Daniel Eisenberg and Ellen Rothenberg, faculty research fellows at SAIC’s Institute for Curatorial Research and Practice.
Presented in partnership with SAIC’s Institute for Curatorial Research and Practice