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Maintenance Required

May 30–June 22, 2013
The Kitchen, 512 W 19th Street

Maintenance is crucial for the continuation of our physical infrastructure, our society, and our lives. The often repetitive and mundane work of maintenance sustains people, objects, and institutions, and supports our constant struggle against entropy and decay. Ubiquitous but unseen and undervalued, maintenance comprises the essential systems of support that clear the ground for all other forms of work.

Investigating the diversity of maintenance tasks, Maintenance Required examines the large-scale systems that construct our daily lives. Durational by nature, maintenance networks provide life-perpetuating mechanisms of care; yet these systems can also invisibly direct or limit life’s possibilities, or even become malevolent systems of control. By overcoming our collective blindness toward maintenance activities, we can begin to examine how they condition our lives. Bringing maintenance into view exposes a constantly shifting set of social, political, and affective relations and invites questions about what needs to be maintained and under what conditions that maintenance occurs.

The exhibition takes as its entry point to these issues Mierle Laderman Ukeles’s “Manifesto for Maintenance Art 1969!", in which the artist redefines maintenance activities as art.Maintenance Required then focuses on artistic practices that frame and critically engage these often invisible systems of life support. Many of these practices articulate the paradoxical tensions of large-scale systems of maintenance whose power to sustain life may run parallel to the power to constrain it.

The exhibition features works by Michael Bramwell, Goldin+SennebyAshley HuntMasaru Iwai, Yve Laris Cohen, Sam Lewitt, Park McArthur, Salvage Art InstituteKarin SanderTaryn SimonPilvi Takala, and Mierle Laderman Ukeles.

Maintenance Required is curated by Nina Horisaki-Christens, Andrea Neustein, Victoria Rogers, and Jason Waite, the 2012–13 Helena Rubinstein Curatorial Fellows of the Independent Study Program.

Yve Laris Cohen, Waltz; Cross Hesitation, 2012 (performance view, Thomas Erben Gallery, New York, May 18, 2012). White wall, white floor, white wall, white floor, black wall, black floor, white transsexual. Courtesy of the artist and Thomas Erben Gallery. Photograph by Andreas Vesterlund
Yve Laris Cohen, Waltz; Cross Hesitation, 2012 (performance view, Thomas Erben Gallery, New York, May 18, 2012). White wall, white floor, white wall, white floor, black wall, black floor, white transsexual. Courtesy of the artist and Thomas Erben Gallery. Photograph by Andreas Vesterlund
Sam Lewitt, Test Subject A2 Fine, 2010. Helicopter pilot’s helmet, Arizona test dust ISO 12103-1 (PTI ID: 10717F, Batch 16, Aug. 2010). Photomount, adhesive vinyl lettering, 10 × 11 × 10 in. (25.4 × 27.9 × 25.4 cm). Courtesy of the artist and Miguel Abreu Gallery. Photograph by Adam Reich
Sam Lewitt, Test Subject A2 Fine, 2010. Helicopter pilot’s helmet, Arizona test dust ISO 12103-1 (PTI ID: 10717F, Batch 16, Aug. 2010). Photomount, adhesive vinyl lettering, 10 × 11 × 10 in. (25.4 × 27.9 × 25.4 cm). Courtesy of the artist and Miguel Abreu Gallery. Photograph by Adam Reich
Taryn Simon, Transatlantic Sub-Marine Cables Reaching Land, VSNL International, Avon, New Jersey, 2007. Chromogenic print, 37 1/4 × 44 1/2 in. (94.6 × 113 cm) framed. Courtesy of Steidl/Gagosian
Taryn Simon, Transatlantic Sub-Marine Cables Reaching Land, VSNL International, Avon, New Jersey, 2007. Chromogenic print, 37 1/4 × 44 1/2 in. (94.6 × 113 cm) framed. Courtesy of Steidl/Gagosian
Karin Sander, Wallpiece 220 × 840 cm, 1995 (installation view, Karin Sander, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart). Polished wall paint, 86 3/5 × 330 7/10 in. (220 × 840 cm). Photograph by Martin Lauffer
Karin Sander, Wallpiece 220 × 840 cm, 1995 (installation view, Karin Sander, Staatsgalerie Stuttgart). Polished wall paint, 86 3/5 × 330 7/10 in. (220 × 840 cm). Photograph by Martin Lauffer
Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Touch Sanitation Performance: Sweep 7, Staten Island, 6:00 a.m. Roll Call, 1979–80. Citywide performance with 8,500 New York City sanitation workers. Courtesy of Ronald Feldman Fine Arts
Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Touch Sanitation Performance: Sweep 7, Staten Island, 6:00 a.m. Roll Call, 1979–80. Citywide performance with 8,500 New York City sanitation workers. Courtesy of Ronald Feldman Fine Arts
Goldin+Senneby, Headless Symbol, 2007. Designed by Johan Hjerpe. Courtesy of the artists
Goldin+Senneby, Headless Symbol, 2007. Designed by Johan Hjerpe. Courtesy of the artists
Pilvi Takala, The Trainee, 2008 (still from video). Installation with letter, key card, PowerPoint presentation, office furniture, video; dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist and Carlos/Ishikawa, London
Pilvi Takala, The Trainee, 2008 (still from video). Installation with letter, key card, PowerPoint presentation, office furniture, video; dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist and Carlos/Ishikawa, London
Installation view of No Longer Art: Salvage Art Institute, Arthur Ross Architecture Gallery (Columbia University, New York, 2012–13). Courtesy the Salvage Art Institute. Photograph by Elka Krajewska
Installation view of No Longer Art: Salvage Art Institute, Arthur Ross Architecture Gallery (Columbia University, New York, 2012–13). Courtesy the Salvage Art Institute. Photograph by Elka Krajewska
Masaru Iwai, sketch for Washing Stage, 2013. Watercolor and pen on paper, 8 1/4 × 11 3/4 in. (21 × 29.9 mm). Courtesy of Takuro Someya Contemporary Art
Masaru Iwai, sketch for Washing Stage, 2013. Watercolor and pen on paper, 8 1/4 × 11 3/4 in. (21 × 29.9 mm). Courtesy of Takuro Someya Contemporary Art
Park McArthur with Ben Fain and David Prince, How to Get a Wheelchair over Sand, 2009. Temporary installation of wood, bamboo mats, concrete, and sand, dimensions variable. Saugatuck, MI. Courtesy of the artist
Park McArthur with Ben Fain and David Prince, How to Get a Wheelchair over Sand, 2009. Temporary installation of wood, bamboo mats, concrete, and sand, dimensions variable. Saugatuck, MI. Courtesy of the artist
Ashley Hunt, still from Corrections, 2001. Digital video, color, sound; 57 min. Courtesy of the artist
Ashley Hunt, still from Corrections, 2001. Digital video, color, sound; 57 min. Courtesy of the artist
Michael Bramwell, Ground Zero Sweeps I–II: Collaborative Sweep, Hiroshima, 1996. Inkjet print, 11 × 14 in. (28 × 35.6 cm). Courtesy of the artist
Michael Bramwell, Ground Zero Sweeps I–II: Collaborative Sweep, Hiroshima, 1996. Inkjet print, 11 × 14 in. (28 × 35.6 cm). Courtesy of the artist

Support for the Independent Study Program is provided by Margaret Morgan and Wesley Phoa, The Capital Group Charitable Foundation, and the Whitney Contemporaries through their annual Art Party benefit.

Endowment support is provided by Joanne Leonhardt Cassullo, the Dorothea L. Leonhardt Fund of the Communities Foundation of Texas, the Dorothea L. Leonhardt Foundation, and the Helena Rubinstein Foundation.