ukeles - touvh sanitation

Mierle Laderman Ukeles: from: "Touch Sanitation Performance".
image courtesy: Ronald Feldman Gallery

Mierle Laderman Ukeles (USA *1939)

After the birth of her first child in 1968, Mierle Laderman Ukeles began to break away from her male artistic role models Jackson Pollock, Marcel Duchamp and Mark Rothko, whose artistic freedom and development had never been constrained by the 'banal' responsibilities of a mother. In a radical manifesto published in 1969, she declared 'maintenance work' or reproductive labor to be art and criticized the traditional concept of the freelance artist as a completely autonomous individual. In her performances, which sometimes went on over several years, she combines ecological, feminist and labor issues. Her work (often unpaid) placed her directly at the heart of public services such as museums or the Department of Sanitation.

Mierle Laderman Ukeles developed the "Touch Sanitation" performance between 1979 and 1980, when she was artist in residence with the New York City Department of Sanitation. For this piece, she followed the city's sanitation workers to thank each of them personally and to use art to put their everyday cleaning work into the spotlight of public attention. Ukeles wanted the whole city to become the site of her performance.


In the Video Archive:

"Sanman Speak" (from the series "Touch Sanitation Performance" 1979, 58:21min.
"Waste Flow Video" (from the series "Touch Sanitation Performance" 1979, 57:37min.


Ronald Feldman Gallery, New York