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Emilie Appercé on Maintenance Art
3 October, 2021
This was recommended by Amy Perkins during the reading room session organised by Annexe at ZAZ, Zentrum Architektur Zürich. Free artist and full-time mother, when her daughter is born, Mierle Ukeles feels literally split in two. On the one hand, she is rediscovering the world through her daughter’s eyes, on the other, she is bored to death. This is also the time when she starts working as a maintenance worker. She decides to combine the two, to turn Work into Art. Maintenance Art is a manifesto, the first two pages describe her ideas and what she calls ‘basic systems’, the other two pages are a proposal for an exhibition that would occupy a whole museum in which Ukeles would live, take care of things, dust, change light bulbs, feed people. The format of the manifesto is particularly inspiring, it includes in interviews conducted by the public on maintenance issues and their relationship to it. It challenges in a radical way the limits of western cultures, and the absolutely essential role of maintenance, the implications of actively valuing it rather than hiding it.