Mierle Laderman Ukeles: “Maintenance Art at 50”

Mierle Laderman Ukeles: “Maintenance Art at 50”

Moore College of Art & Design

Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Touch Sanitation Performance, 1979–1980, “Handshake Ritual” with workers of NYC Department of Sanitation.

October 24, 2019
Mierle Laderman Ukeles: “Maintenance Art at 50”
Philadelphia cultural organizations convene for celebration of Mierle Laderman Ukeles
November 4–8, 2019
Conversations@Moore: November 4, 6–9pm, Mierle Laderman Ukeles with Patti Phillips
Graham Auditorium
Moore College of Art & Design
1916 Race St
19103 Philadelphia PA
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Series of events that highlight the 50th anniversary of the artist’s famous manifesto.

Best known for her decades-long role as the official, unsalaried artist-in-residence at the New York City Department of Sanitation, Mierle Laderman Ukeles returns this November to Philadelphia, where she penned her Manifesto for Maintenance Art 1969! Proposal for an Exhibition “CARE”, for a series of presentations and dialogues throughout the city in celebration of the 50th anniversary of that work.

Convened and organized by Moore College of Art & Design, Ukeles will be “embedded” in Philadelphia for five days, from November 4–8. She will kick off her stay with a major public lecture at Moore on Monday evening, November 4, followed by a series of smaller workshops, conversations, and panels with partnering cultural organizations, colleges and universities across the city. The visit marks a return by the artist to Moore, where she concluded a performance on November 7, 1973, “Now You Have Heirs / Airs, M. Duchamp,” in which she “aired” a string along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, starting at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and cut it in front of the College—a collaboration with the Museum’s then-curator Anne d’Harnoncourt.

“Ukeles was a groundbreaker, and she is a role model for Moore students, in terms of the social impact that art can have,” said Moore President Cecelia Fitzgibbon. “Her manifesto is deeply rooted in the cultural history of the city of Philadelphia, and bookends the institutions on the Parkway—from the Philadelphia Museum of Art to Moore—as places where great art can take shape.” 

In the kickoff event, Ukeles will be joined in conversation by Moore’s Academic Dean Patricia C. Phillips—who co-curated the retrospective exhibition of Ukeles’ work at the Queens Museum in 2016 and was lead author of Mierle Laderman Ukeles: Maintenance Art—on Monday, November 4, 2019, 6–9pm in Graham Auditorium at Moore College of Art & Design, 1916 Race Street, located on The Parkway, Philadelphia, PA. The event is free and open to the public, with limited tickets available at bit.ly/MooreUkeles, with advance registration required. Ukeles’ visit is a special co-presentation of Moore’s ongoing Conversations@Moore public program series, organized by Moore College of Art & Design’s Graduate Studies programs in Socially Engaged Art. Visit moore.edu/sea for more information on these MFA and MA programs.

A wide range of arts organizations and academic institutions have come together to host and organize events, conversations and workshops throughout the city for the remainder of the week. They include Moore College of Art & Design, The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, Mural Arts Philadelphia’s Trash Academy initiative, RAIR, The University of the Arts, University of Pennsylvania’s Weitzman School of Design MFA program, Temple Contemporary and Tyler School of Art and Architecture. For the full schedule of public and private events, visit the Moore website.

“Moore is honored to host Mierle Laderman Ukeles’ public lecture, and we are particularly delighted to work with other Philadelphia-based stakeholders in welcoming her back to the city,” said Moore Academic Dean Patti Phillips. “Collaboration and partnering are core to Ukeles’ work—and so this concept guided and inspired the week of events and activities.”

Mierle Laderman Ukeles became the official artist-in-residence at the New York City Department of Sanitation in 1977. Since then, she has created art that deals with the endless maintenance and service work that “keeps the city alive.” Written 50 years ago and in a single sitting, her manifesto laid out the hidden yet essential role of maintenance in Western society—and the radical implications of actively valuing rather than dismissing or hiding it. Her writing predicted a deep concern with reproductive labor found across feminist thought, contemporary art, and the activism that falls under the banner of “care” work. This event celebrates the anniversary of the manifesto while looking back at how the concepts presented in the manifesto have been present in Ukeles’ artwork as well as finding points of convergence with current artistic, social and environmental movements.

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Moore College of Art & Design
October 24, 2019

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