Mierle Laderman Ukeles, “Maintenance / Survival / and its Relation to Freedom: You and the City”

“Can we design modes of survival that don’t squoosh our freedom? I’m talking about personal freedom, social and civic freedom, and a chance for a thriving planet not an entropic one.  Recently, I have seen a lot of darkness, from nature, from slaughter here and abroad. I have also seen acts of incredible generosity and largeness of spirit. I want to show you some work that spans decades, since I wrote the Manifesto for Maintenance Art 1969! This art presupposes our power to create transformation. Now I’m asking, do we have that power? And I want to engage you in a discussion about these matters.” ~Mierle Laderman Ukeles
New York-based artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles has worked extensively with the public domain and public culture. Her Manifesto for Maintenance Art, 1969! remains a point of reference in her field. As an official unpaid artist-in-residence at the New York City Department of Sanitation, since 1977, she has focused on maintenance and service work that “keeps the city alive”: urban waste flows, recycling, ecology, urban sustainability and the transformation of degraded land and water into healthy public places. Her works include seven “work ballets” with workers, trucks, barges and tons of recyclables, and installations in major cities around the world. She has taught at Columbia, Yale, and San Francisco Art Institute and is represented by Ronald Feldman Fine Arts.

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