“Mierle Laderman Ukeles: Maintenance Art is the first survey exhibition of the pioneering American artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles (b. Denver, CO, 1939). The exhibition features newly imagined historic performances, sculptural works, and current works-in-process as new site-specific installations, often using the unique features of the Queens Museum. These include a light path tracking her seminal performance 1979 Touch Sanitation across the surface of the Panorama of the City of New York and Pulse II, fourteen Sanitation truck “flashers” blinking and signaling along the Museum’s west façade. The exhibition also includes photo and text based works related to dozens of performances that ranged from hours to months in duration as well as proposals, planning documents, and models for major realized and unrealized temporary and permanent public projects.” — Queens Museum
“As the New York Sanitation Department’s Artist-in-Residence, Mierle Laderman Ukeles’ art has brought wide public attention to the difficult work performed each and every day by the dedicated men and women of the DSNY,” said Commissioner Kathryn Garcia. “From Touch Sanitation, in 1979 to her current project at Freshkills Park, the department’s relationship with Ukeles has demonstrated how effective and thought provoking an artist residency can be and served as a model for current and future city agency artist residencies.”
Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Air Art: On Land, in the Air, and in the Water with Growth, 1969. Ink and marker on paper mounted on board, 18 ⅛ x 24 in. (46 x 60.1 cm). Courtesy of Ronald Feldman Fine Arts.
Mierle Laderman Ukeles, I Make Maintenance Art One Hour Every Day, September 16–October 20, 1976. Performance with three hundred maintenance employees, day and night shifts over the course of six weeks at 55 Water Street, New York. Installation at Whitney Museum Downtown at 55 Water Street. 720 Polaroid photographs mounted on paper, printed labels, color-coded stickers, seven handwritten and typewritten texts, clipboard, and custom-made buttons, overall: 12 x 15 ft. (3.7 x 4.6 m). Courtesy of Ronald Feldman Fine Arts.
Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Touch Sanitation Performance, 1979-1980. Citywide performance with 8,500 Sanitation workers across all fifty-nine New York City Sanitation districts. Courtesy of Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, photo: Robin Holland.
Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Touch Sanitation Performance, 1979-1980. Citywide performance with 8,500 Sanitation workers across all fifty-nine New York City Sanitation districts. Courtesy of Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, photo: Marcia Bricker.
Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Sanitation Celebrations: Grand Finale of the First NYC Art Parade, Part I: The Social Mirror, 1983. Garbage collection truck, tempered glass mirror, and acrylic mirror, 28 x 8 x 101⁄2 ft. (8.5 x 2.4 x 3.2 m). Created in collaboration with DSNY. Courtesy the artist.
Mierle Laderman Ukeles. NYC Triumphal Maintenance Arch: Glove Arch Honoring Sanitation Workers in Memory of John DeLury, 1983. Ink and oil pastel on paper, 14 x 11 in. (35.6 x 27.9 cm). Courtesy of Ronald Feldman Fine Arts.
Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Plan for Flow City #5: Passage Ramp, Glass Bridge, and Media Flow Wall, with video cameras at west end of station, 1983–2001. Graphite, colored pencil, and marker on DSNY plan of the rehabilitated West Fifty-Ninth Street Marine Transfer Station, New York, 24 x 26 in. (60.1 x 66 cm). Courtesy of Ronald Feldman Fine Arts.
Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Untitled drawing for Flow City, 1983–2001. Courtesy of Ronald Feldman Fine Arts.
Mierle Laderman Ukeles, The Gates of the City: A Truck Washing Fountain, 1986. Ink and oil pastel on paper, 14 x 11 in. (35.6 x 27.9 cm). Courtesy of Ronald Feldman Fine Arts.
This exhibition is organized by the Queens Museum curator Larissa Harris and guest cocurator Patricia C. Phillips, who initiated the project in 2012.
Images courtesy Queens Museum.