Installation (Textile, Photo, Video)
In 1969, Mierle Laderman Ukelis wrote Manifesto for Maintenance Art, in which she theorizes that society is divided into two basic systems: development and maintenance. Development, associated with the avant-garde, the individual, and the innovative, and maintenance, associated with tasks of preservation, repetition and care. The manifesto discusses how development is valued over maintenance because it facilitates linear growth and progress, prioritized by a capitalist system over everything else. Meanwhile, the maintainers, though equally crucial to the system, often women or minorities, are typically underpaid and undervalued.
With a background in art history and archival work, the artist situates her practice alongside those of the maintenance workers, as she works from a personal archive of found images, organizing, repositioning and repurposing. These actions are crucial now more than ever, given the sheer quantity of data, information, and knowledge we are confronted with daily. The narrative of the producer is the dominant narrative: capitalism, economic growth, extractivism, the individual, the innovator, the colonizer, political power, and war. The on-going research done over the course of the residency explores what the narrative of the maintenance worker looks like today, in the age of over-saturation, overprescription, and extreme polarization. Are we all maintenance workers? If so, what is it that we are constantly, monotonously and obsessively reinforcing?
The installation is composed of video, found images and found fabrics. The fabrics are handmade, intricately woven textiles historically associated with the feminine, and the domestic. They are brought into a gallery context as found objects, as well as to be in dialogue with the photographs that have been translated by hand onto them. The quiet repetitive nature of the fabrics and the photos representing different examples of “maintenance” (of the earth, the household, the mind and body, as well as a more theoretical maintenance of social/political structures) weave together a constellation that proposes a reevaluation of progress and maintenance, and a reexamination of “work in progress.”
This exhibition, titled Work in Progress was the conclusion of a three month residency at Tangent Projects alongside painter D La Her.