Thursday, 24 January 2013

Sanitation is culture

Mierle Laderman Ukeles (righttalking with
Brooklyn Museum employee Peggy Johnson
Wallace Heim writes:

In New York last week, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, artist in residence since 1977 for the New York City Department of Sanitation, conducted a series of live interviews with Brooklyn Museum's daily maintenance staff, window washers, floor sweepers, security guards, and told them what they do is "the first kind of culture".

In her performance, which also included architects and city planners, she asked each person a series of questions: How do you personally survive? What do you need to do to keep going? What happens to your dreams and your freedom when you do the things you have to do to keep surviving? What keeps New York City alive? What does the city need to do to survive after Sandy?.

Ukeles told the workers, "Here's the museum with all this stuff, and then there's what you do. You are culture, and your work is culture. And the endless hours that will never be done, that's what enable us to be in an institution like this. Mopping up the garbage from yesterday. It's safe. And the things in here are taken care of. That's culture."

Full interview with Ukeles on Gallerist NY.
photo: Carole DeBeer, courtesy Brooklyn Museum.

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