Grazer Kunstverein

Mierle Laderman Ukeles

09 Mar - 19 May 2013

Mierle Laderman Ukeles
'Maintenance Art Work', 1977
Courtesy Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York
Maintenance Art Works 1969–1980
9 March – 19 May 2013

The Grazer Kunstverein is proud to present the very first comprehensive, European solo exhibition of the artist's earlier work. Organized in 1998 by Ronald Feldman Fine Arts gallery in New York, the exhibition presents a body of work spanning over a decade of significant production.

The work of Mierle Laderman Ukeles (born 1939, Denver, CO) concerns the everyday routines of life. In 1969, following the birth of her first child, Ukeles wrote “Manifesto for Maintenance Art” as a challenge to the binary systems of opposition that draw the line between art/life, nature/culture, and public/private. The manifesto proposed undoing boundaries that separate the maintenance of everyday life from the role of an artist in society. Ukeles was interested in how artists could use the concept of transference to empower people to act as agents of change and stimulate positive community involvement toward ecological sustainability. In the 1960s, Ukeles completed an undergraduate degree in history and international studies at Barnard and studied visual arts at Pratt Institute in New York. Ukeles’ work at this time was experimental, and visually and symbolically conveyed the social unrest surrounding events such as the women’s movement and the Vietnam War.

Ukeles became increasingly disturbed by the separation of the artist in society from everyday activities such as childcare, household work, and other routine labor practices that she felt should be reinterpreted within the contexts of personal and political aesthetic values. Ukeles has stated that “Avant-garde art, which claims utter development, is infected by strains of maintenance ideas, maintenance activities, and maintenance materials...”

“I am an artist. I am a woman. I am a wife. I am a mother. (Random order) I do a hell of a lot of washing, cleaning, cooking, renewing, supporting, preserving, etc. Also, (up to now separately) I ‘do’ Art. Now I will simply do these everyday things, and flush them up to consciousness, exhibit them, as Art.” (Ukeles, 1969)

The exhibition will be accompanied by Ukeles’ very first publication focusing on her “Ballet Works” produced between 1983 and 2012. It is produced by Kunstverein, Amsterdam in collaboration with the Grazer Kunstverein, and is published by Sternberg Press with the support of Ronald Feldman Fine Arts and the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.

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