In 1976, Mierle Laderman Ukeles invited three hundred maintenance workers at 55 Water Street, the site of the Whitney Museum’s former downtown branch, to conceive of their work as “maintenance art” for one hour every day during their eight-hour work shift. The resulting work I Make Maintenance Art One Hour Every Day (1976) exemplifies her commitment to making art engaged with the endless maintenance and service work that is essential but often invisible. On the occasion of the exhibition An Incomplete History of Protest: Selections from the Whitney’s Collection, 1940-2017, Ukeles speaks about I Make Maintenance Art One Hour Every Day, her role as the official, unsalaried Artist-in-Residence at the New York City Department of Sanitation, and her creation of art as activism.
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