Mierle Laderman Ukeles Mikva Dreams: Judaism, Feminism, and Maintenance in the Art of Mierle Laderman Ukeles

Panorama Dec 02, 2019

When Mierle Laderman Ukeles (b. 1939) performed Mikva Dreams at New York’s Franklin Furnace Gallery in 1977, it was the first time the immersion of a Jewish woman in the mikvah had been presented to an audience for American art. Seated in the gallery, Ukeles read aloud from a text she had written, while covering herself with a white sheet, “to preserve,” in her words, “an aura of sacred mystery and privacy” (fig. 1).1 In her performance, she described the immersion in the mikvah as an act of rebirth and a return to the Garden of Eden, extolling it as a ritual that connects a woman with her inner being.

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