Bridge 2: Queens Museum Exhibition Review
Mierie Laderman Ukeles
While at the Queens Museum, we exhibited the museum and the work of Mierie Laderman Ukeles and her show, Maintenance Art. Her proposal of the exhibition “Maintenance Art” explores the details behind the scenes of what we see when it comes to the maintenance system. She emphasizes the idea of maintenance as a creative strategy, making the ignored systems and invisible labor noticeable. Throughout her work in Maintenance Art, she photographs her experience and her connection with the maintenance workers. In her work, Touch Sanitation, she goes around New York City around ten times in order to reach fifty-nine sanitation districts to shake the hands of every sanitation worker and thank them for everything they do for the city. Touch Sanitation is a perfect example of an unequal system when it comes to the maintenance system and the class system. Maintenance workers, sanitation workers, etc., tend to go unnoticed in every community. Mierie Laderman Ukeles portrays her artwork as a symbol of recognition for each and every worker. In Touch Sanitation, she follows around the workers and their routes, studying their every move. She has another show that took place in 1976 called I Make Maintenance Art One Hour Every Day. This piece was a collaboration between around 300 workers who maintained a 3.5 million square-foot building where her show was being held. She decided to document the actions of these maintenance workers as she told them to conceptualize their actions as art for one hour every day. Throughout most of her work, she tries to portray the invisible side of the workers and give appreciation to the ones who help keep us alive. As Mierie Laderman Ukeles portrays the unequal systems of both class and maintenance, she criticizes the way in how the public ignores the most important side of the maintenance system. To me, her work is extremely important especially with current events going on right now with our President. In this generation, her work speaks to us as a more symbolic piece of artwork, as it shows the importance of people that help keep us alive every day. The current events that have recently came about connects with the meaning of her work. The unequal class system affects everyone, especially the minority and the lower working class. Almost everyone today is ignored in a different way, especially some of the lower classes with the circumstances that we live in today, so I it’s important to learn the relevance of Mierie’s work and shows because it enables us to connect and see the importance of the invisible systems that act as a support system to us. As the public is able to create more connections with artist’s work, both from the past and the present, the work becomes more relevant and known. To me, I Make Maintenance Art One Hour Every Day and Touch Sanitation are the most connected pieces of work when it comes to different invisible systems, specifically unequal class and maintenance systems. In our lives, there are many different systems that go as far as helping us survive and being fortunate enough to experience different things and live in the conditions that we live in. Systems such as the water system, waste system, maintenance system, and class system are some of the most important systems that we need to take advantage of in order to survive. Our everyday lives are connected to a numerous amount of systems every day that we don’t take advantage of that Mierie portrays in her series of work.
Ceremonial Arch that she built with gloves that are signed by the maintenance workers.