Manifesto for Maintenance, Again!

 
2015 / Performative readings and searching traces for Mierle Laderman Ukeles’ Proposal for Care / Exnergasse Vienna


 
For the exhibition ‘A Proposal to Call’ Exnergasse Vienna / Curated by Vera Lauf and Barbara Mahlknecht.
 
Read-in invited students, people from the neighborhood and a variety of people working in other areas of the WUK – in counselling and education, teachers, community service workers, musicians, artists, seniors for a collective reading, discussing, debating, decision making, exploring histories of care and spaces of labour.

 

In the frame of the project A Proposal to Call the group Read-in invited to read the Manifesto. Maintenance Art. Proposal for an exhibition written by the artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles. In 1969, in a period of activism by student protest movements in the USA, Europe, Mexico and Japan; the African-American civil rights movement; and the international women’s movement, the artist, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, drew up a manifesto, entitling it, Manifesto. Maintenance Art. Proposal for an exhibition response to the contradictions she perceived between taking up a vocation within society, her conception of herself as an artist, and her new role as a mother, her answer was that she would be a ‘maintenance worker’, and she stated that, from now on, she would produce ‘maintenance art’, “I was asking myself: If I am the boss of my freedom, if I am the artist, and I have freely chosen to become a mother, which means I became a maintenance worker […]—I chose this, I chose maintenance. And I call maintenance art, and I call necessity freedom.” She had conceived the Manifesto for Maintenance Art as part of a proposal for an exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art. The central theme of the exhibition was ‘maintenance’ as ‘personal maintenance’, ‘general [or public] maintenance’ and ‘earth maintenance’. Ukeles suggested that she should undertake everyday housework, such as washing, cleaning and cooking, as part of the exhibition. The Museum turned down her Proposal for an Exhibition. In 1971, it was published by Jack Burnham in the journal, Artforum. Mierle Laderman Ukeles went on to develop a series of Maintenance Art Performances, which were shown at various art institutions.

The contribution by Read-in will start from the collective reading of Laderman Ukeles Manifesto, which will include reflections and discussions on the content of the text as well as its relevance for today. Based on these discussions and preparatory investigations, Read-in will realize a series of workshops that will take place at specific places in WUK/Vienna that conjure a certain history, working mode or address a certain body politics related to collective readings of Ukeles Manifesto.

On two following days Read-in invited students, people from the neighborhood and a variety of people working in other areas of the WUK  in counselling and education, community service workers, musicians, artists, seniors for a collective reading, discussing, debating, decision making, exploring histories of care and spaces of labour. Workshopping towards a series of performative exercises related to the topic and specific place notions of (un)learning, maintaining and memorizing will be examined and performed as (im)possibilities for opening up spaces of engagement and of care into the public sphere.