Philadelphia, PA — Best known for her decades-long role as the official, unsalaried artist-in-residence at the New York City Department of Sanitation, Mierle Laderman Ukeles returns this November to Philadelphia, where she penned her Manifesto for Maintenance Art 1969! Proposal for an Exhibition “CARE”, for a series of presentations and dialogues throughout the city in celebration of the 50th anniversary of that work.

Convened and organized by Moore College of Art & Design, Ukeles will be “embedded” in Philadelphia for five days, from November 4–8. She will kick off her stay with a major public lecture at Moore on Monday evening, November 4, followed by a series of smaller workshops, conversations, and panels with partnering cultural organizations, colleges and universities across the city. The visit marks a return by the artist to Moore, where she concluded a performance on November 7, 1973, “Now You Have Heirs / Airs, M. Duchamp,” in which she “aired” a string along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, starting at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and cut it in front of the College—a collaboration with the Museum’s then-curator Anne d’Harnoncourt.

“Ukeles was a groundbreaker, and she is a role model for Moore students, in terms of the social impact that art can have,” said Moore President Cecelia Fitzgibbon. “Her manifesto is deeply rooted in the cultural history of the city of Philadelphia, and bookends the institutions on the Parkway—from the Philadelphia Museum of Art to Moore—as places where great art can take shape.” 

In the kickoff event, Ukeles will be joined in conversation by Moore’s Academic Dean Patricia C. Phillips—who co-curated the retrospective exhibition of Ukeles’ work at the Queens Museum in 2016 and was lead author of Mierle Laderman Ukeles: Maintenance Art—on Monday, November 4, 2019, 6–9 pm in Graham Auditorium at Moore College of Art & Design, 1916 Race Street, located on The Parkway, Philadelphia, PA. The event is free and open to the public, with limited tickets available at Advance registration is required. Ukeles’ visit is a special co-presentation of Moore’s ongoing Conversations@Moore public program series, organized by Moore College of Art & Design’s Graduate Studies programs in Socially Engaged Art. Visit for more information on these MFA and MA programs.

A wide range of arts organizations and academic institutions have come together to host and organize events, conversations and workshops throughout the city for the remainder of the week. They include Moore College of Art & Design, The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, Mural Arts Philadelphia's Trash Academy initiative, RAIR, The University of the Arts, University of Pennsylvania's Weitzman School of Design MFA program, Temple Contemporary and Tyler School of Art and Architecture. A schedule of events is provided below.

“Moore is honored to host Mierle Laderman Ukeles’ public lecture, and we are particularly delighted to work with other Philadelphia-based stakeholders in welcoming her back to the city,” said Moore Academic Dean Patti Phillips. “Collaboration and partnering are core to Ukeles’ work—perhaps her most epic project is Touch Sanitation Performance (1979–80), in which she faced, thanked and shook the hand of every member of New York City’s Department of Sanitation (8,500 at the time) over the course of 11 months, including three daily eight-hour shifts—and so this concept guided and inspired the week of events and activities.”

Written 50 years ago and in a single sitting, Ukeles’ manifesto laid out the hidden yet essential role of maintenance in Western society—and the radical implications of actively valuing rather than dismissing or hiding it. Her writing predicted a deep concern with reproductive labor found across feminist thought, contemporary art, and the activism that falls under the banner of “care” work. This event celebrates the anniversary of the manifesto while looking back at how the concepts outlined in the manifesto have been present in Ukeles’ artwork as well as finding points of convergence with current artistic, social and environmental movements. 

Mierle Laderman Ukeles became the official artist-in-residence at the New York City Department of Sanitation in 1977. Since then, she has created art that deals with the endless maintenance and service work that “keeps the city alive,” urban waste flows, recycling, ecology, urban sustainability and our power to transform degraded land and water into healthy, inhabitable public places. Ukeles asks whether we can design modes of survival—for a thriving planet, not an entropic one—that don’t crush our personal and civic freedom and silence the individual’s voice.

Maintenance Art at 50: Mierle Laderman Ukeles in Philadelphia
Schedule for November 4–8, 2019*

*Some details not yet finalized

Monday, November 4, 6–9 pm
Moore College of Art & Design, Graham Auditorium
1916 Race Street, Located on the Parkway
Conversations@Moore: Mierle Laderman Ukeles in Conversation with Patti Phillips
Open to the public with advance registration required:

Tuesday, November 5, noon–5 pm
The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage
1608 Walnut Street, 18th floor
Luncheon conversation with Pew leadership followed by conversations with the Trust for Public Land, Fabric Workshop and Museum and Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
Private event, not open to the public

Wednesday, November 6, 9–10:30 am
Temple Contemporary/Tyler School of Art and Architecture
2001 North 13th Street
Seminar discussion and workshop, with students and faculty from the Tyler School of Art and Architecture, on the politics and evolution of care throughout Ukeles’ career
Private event, not open to the public

Wednesday, November 6, 1–4 pm
Moore College of Art & Design, Margaret Minik Writers Studio, Connelly Library
1916 Race Street, Located on the Parkway
Writers’ Workshop: Why (and How) Do Artists Write Manifestos?
Discussion/workshop led by Maya Pindyck, Assistant Professor & Writing Director at Moore
Private event, not open to the public

Wednesday, November 6, 5–10 pm
RAIR: RAIR Trash Bash
Atelier FAS Gallery, 1301 North 31st Street
VIP Reception: 5–7 pm (private event, not open to the public)
General Reception/Event: 7–10 pm (open to the public)

Thursday, November 7, 9–11 am
RAIR Revolution Recovery
7333 Milnor Street
Tour of facilities and Superfund site, and conversation
Private event, not open to the public

Thursday, November 7, noon–4 pm
University of Pennsylvania/PennDesign
210 South 34th Street
Individual critiques with UPenn MFA students
Private event, not open to the public

Friday, November 8, 9–11 am
Mural Arts Philadelphia
1727–29 Mount Vernon Street
Breakfast meeting and Q+A with high-school student participants from Mural Arts Philadelphia’s Trash Academy project and several Philadelphia sanitation workers
Private event, not open to the public

Pictured above: Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Touch Sanitation Performance, 1979–1980, “Handshake Ritual” with workers of NYC Department of Sanitation. Photo by Marcia Bricker.