The Life Instinct

I’m participating in the Bronx Museum’s AIM Program, and, as an assignment, we are supposed to come up with a fantasy group show to contextualize our work. Here’s mine, titled The Life Instinct after a section of Mierle Laderman Ukeles’s Maintenance Art Manifesto.

I’ve posted about almost all of these projects on this blog before, but here they are again, all together.

The great MLU washing the gallery stairs, I presume. From the Manifesto:

The Death Instinct: separation, individuality, Avant-Garde par excellence, to follow one’s own path to death–do your own thing, dynamic change.

The Life Instinct: unification, the eternal return, the perpetuation and MAINTENANCE of the species, survival systems and operations, equilibrium.

In Loving Memory, by Kristyna & Marek Milde, is an installation made of discarded outdoor chairs found in the garbage on the streets of New York. They were refurbished to a functional state and sanitized. While the chairs serve their purpose as patio furniture on the roof of the NURTUREart, the installation addresses the issue of fast-paced cycles of the consumerism and the impermanence and the interchangeability of things, where actual ownership often represents a short-lived affair before rejection. Each chair has a plaque attached to its back, commemorating their “worn out”, “obsolete”, and generally “uncool” qualities recalling un-monumental aspects of everyday life.

Sweep, Christina Kelly & Jeff Hutchison

The artists cultivated Broomcorn –  a species that once was central to a Brooklyn broom-making industry – on the banks of the Gowanus Canal. During storms, the stalks function like a sieve, catching debris and preventing it from washing into the canal. At the end of the season, the stalks were made into traditional-style brooms.

Kilmer Shrines, Anne Percoco

For this project, I built and maintained shrines to a network of storm drains in Piscataway, NJ. My process was one of paying consistent attention over time, of growth and accumulation through repeated visits. I invited viewers to visit the shrines, either independently or on guided walking tours.

“With Nomadographies Mattingly proposes a world returned to nomadic roots, following a peripatetic population constantly on the move. In as much as the protagonists in Mattingly’s photographs are related to pioneers of the American frontier, they are also products of a Cold War-era bunker mentality.” — via Artlog

See also: marymattingly.com

shedboatshed, Simon Starling

“Starling dismantled a shed and turned it into a boat; loaded with the remains of the shed, the boat was paddled down the Rhine to a museum in Basel, dismantled and re-made into a shed.” — Tate.org

Garden Maintenance

After months of gorgeous bouquets by Jaime Rugh, I’m happy to see this photo of her garden debris: pulled weeds, twigs, dead leaves…

…and I’m reminded of this quote by Mierle Laderman Ukeles, from a 2009 interview:

That is what maintenance is, trying to listen to the hum of living. A feeling of being alive, breath to breath. The same way that the sanitation department sends out 1,600 trucks every day, it is like this repetitive thing that as much as you chafe at the boredom of the repetition, it is as important as the other parts. “