Mierle Laderman Ukeles Mierle Laderman Ukeles and the Art of Work

The New Yorker Nov 06, 2016

"Near the top of the list of inspired manifestos—Futurism, Dada, De Stijl—is Mierle Laderman Ukeles’s little-known “Maintenance Art.” As a first-time mother in 1969, she grew frustrated by the schism between her domestic life, with its boredoms and joys, and her identity as a New York artist. (She later said, “I learned that Jackson [Pollock], Marcel [Duchamp] and Mark [Rothko] didn’t change diapers.”) She channelled her feelings in four typewritten pages, pointing out a double standard; namely, that repetition and systems were considered rigorous in the context of the avant-garde, but dismissed as drudgery when it came to maintenance workers or housewives. One choice excerpt: “After the revolution, who’s going to pick up the garbage on Monday morning?"

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