Mierle Laderman Ukeles
[Interview conducted by Lori Gilbert]
After child-birth in 1968, artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles became a mother/maintenance worker and fell out of the picture of the avant-garde. In a rage, she wrote the Manifesto for Maintenance Art 1969, applied equally to the home, all kinds of service work, the urban environment, and the sustenance of the earth itself. Inspired, also, by NYC’s “Comprehensive Plan” that split its mission into two systems: development and maintenance, she has created works that collide the boundaries of these two systems together, understanding them as the embodiment of opposing human drives of freedom and necessity. Upcoming and recent exhibitions are Birthing Tikkun Olam, an inter-active installation where over 8,000 people participated in completing the work at the new Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco; Radical Nature at the Barbican in London; Agency: the Work of Artists at the Montalvo Art Center, San Jose; a one person show in the Feldman Gallery Booth at the International Armory Art Fair in NYC; WACK! Art & the Feminist Revolution beginning at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art and traveling; and the Sharjah Biennial 8, United Arab Emirates. Often a visiting artist, she was Senior Critic at Yale in the sculpture department in 2007—2008. Forthcoming and recent publications include “Forgiveness for the Land: Public Offerings Made by All, Redeemed by All,” in On Forgiveness, the List Center for Art and Politics, NYC, 2009; and “The Power of the Artist & The Power of Art in the Public Domain,” in Creative Time: The Book, 2007.