Thursday, November 29, 2007

First dig

First dig of our job site.
Year and a half ago.
I love this video. I wish we had more of them.

My brother in law

My brother in law is a musician in San Francisco. He's really great.
He's never been classically trained and yet he's been making his own music for over a decade. He's quite the local celeb.
He has his own record label he created on his own. His name is Mophono

Friday, November 23, 2007


The Village Voice, May 28, 2002

“Fresh Kills Becomes an Urban Artwork”

Two days after 9-11, the Fresh Kills landfill reopened to take in the wreckage from the World Trade Center. “That was very, very shocking to me,” says artist Mierie Landerman Ukeles, whose six-channel video piece about the former dump─ Penetration and Transparency: Morphed─ is currently running at Snug Harbor Cultural Center on Staten Island. She remembers thinking she’d been misinformed: “The city would never do that. They would never mingle human remains in a place where they put garbage; that would collapse a taboo in our whole culture. That crosses a line.” But no other site was big enough; no other so secure. Ultimately, about 175 of the landfill’s 2200 acres were given over to sifting through the hundreds of the thousands of tons from Ground Zero, no doubt some of it human ash. This added a layer of tragedy to a site that was already contested, fragile, enormous, resented, and political. Ukeles has been the sanitation department’s unpaid artist-in-residence since 1977. She’s devoted her entire career to thinking about garbage, recycling, ecology, and the endless invisible labor involved in keeping things clean. In 1989, the Department of Cultural Affairs gave Ukeles a commission, making her the official artist of Fresh Kills. She’ll now participate in its transformation, working with whatever design team wins the international competition. (Proposals by the three finalists are currently on view at the City Planning Department.) She’s come up with her own conceptual design for the site that she isn’t yet at liberty to discuss. But everyone’s future plan includes a memorial.

What Ukeles has on display now is Phase 1 (out of a projected six) of her Fresh Kills project: reconnaissance. For a while, though, the September 11 disaster stopped her in her tracks. When Snug Harbor’s long-planned exhibition “Fresh Kills: Artists Respond to the Closure of the Staten Island Landfill” opened last October, Ukeles decided to observe a traditional 30-day mourning period with her piece and ran just a text crawl on four monitors, posing questions that amounted to: Is any of this still relevant?

Then she began to phase in interviews with people she calls pathfinders: for example, landscape architects, wetlands, specialists, environmental engineers, experts on the fine points of decomposing garbage and its odious by-products─ methane gas and leachate, a kind of brown bilgewater.

Ukeles, with videographers Kathy Brew and Roberto Guerra, also taped many of Fresh Kills’ post-industrial vistas. Some of the former dump, which is two and a half times the size of Central Park, looks surprisingly bucolic. Underneath those mounds of trash, now capped with plastic and covered with dirt, are pipes and drains, gas lines and leachate collection systems. She marvels at the engineering design─ not just a complicated infrastructure but a flexible one, since everything’s settling at the average rate of two feet a year. It will take many years of “healing” before Fresh Kills becomes a park.

Last Sunday at Snug Harbor, Ukeles added the last of her pathfinders to the exhibit and celebrated the completion of her Phase 1.

Ukeles has been waiting to get to work at Fresh Kills for 24 years. That’s when she first visited the site. Back in the ‘70s, every borough but Manhattan had a mandfill, she she went to see them all. She thought of them as urban earthworks, social sculpture made by all of us.

When Ukeles began to place an art framework around sanitation activities, she had a context for it. In those years, certain avant-gardists designated parts (even all) of everyday life as art, and feminists pointed out that housework was unvalued labor. Ukeles shifted her own art away from abstract expressionist painting after she had a baby, and, in effect, became a maintenance worker. Now she was not just someone engaged in repetitive tasks; a small human life depended on her ability to perform those tasks. When Ukeles wrote her Manifesto for Maintenance Art in 1969, it was a decision to make housekeeping of all kinds visible. In her 1973 piece Hartford Wash, for example, she scrubbed the floor of the Wadsworth Atheneum for four hours, then scrubbed the front steps for another four─ and called it art.

Then, when she turned her attention to the New York City Sanitation Department, she created one of the signature performance pieces of the ‘70s. In Touch Sanitation, she spent 11 months meeting each of the department’s 8500 workers on the job (at the time, they were still called “garbagemen”) to shake hands and say “Thank you for keeping New York City alive.” As she made her way to every worker on every shift, she saw that morale was terrible. “You can’t just ask people to pick up your garbage and then treat them like they’re not there, or like they’re part of the garbage, which was how they were feeling,” says Ukeles. “As a feminist, I recognized something in that. The fury they felt, I knew about as a woman who was seen as invisible. The maintenance work I did had no cultural sound. It didn’t exist.”

Her mirrored garbage truck was created in 1983 to send a message; It’s your garbage. The essential fact of her work is this: Discarding something does not make it invisible. It goes somewhere, and she is the artist of where it goes.

Ukeles has found more and more layers to this work over the years. Certainly, it isn’t just political. In her office at the sanitation department, she’s taped a Xeroxed news photo to a filing cabinet: “Cleansing the Soul.” Masses of Hindu pilgrims wade into the holy rivers at Allahabad, India. She points out the people in the photo who’ve reached out as if to embrace the river. This one joyful and relaxed. That one tense. Both ecstatic. “That’s what I’ve been searching for all these years. You make a place; it’ll have huge emotion, but allows room for difference.” The photo inspires her as she works on a public art piece for Schuylkill River Park in Pennsylvania. The Schuylkill is extremely polluted. “I’m trying to build an artwork that incorporates moving with joy towards the river. Is there any way to become transformed?”

Sanitation, she points out, is not the same as garbage. Sanitation created order out of chaos, and in that way it’s artlike.

I consciously put myself in a position to deal with some of the hardest issues in our society: What to do with our garbage, how might we transform a place that’s completely poisoned and degraded by our own waste, how might these places become available to us again? Placing myself in the sanitation department, where these questions never go away, is a way for me to keep myself in the real. If our dreams can be expressed in material form, then I want to place myself where the material is completely degraded. I want to deal with the landfill. That’s the center of reality; that’s where I try to locate my work.

Handlebras to follow in footsteps...with pink and yellow rubber gloves, some water, and elbow grease...

Thursday, November 22, 2007


So much to be thankful for today. Below are images from the job site/our future home (near future? far future? hard to say)...The home that Turu and I built together. All the plans are his: our house, our home was once just a thought form in Turu's brain. The interesting thing is, maybe I've written about this before, is that because of his thought forms coming into 3 dimenions, future thoughts are going to be formed within those four walls. Life begets life...

View of the areaway from the cellar inside.

Cement retaining wall on the exterior of the vault wall!

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Red phone yellow phone

Although some may argue he's no Duchamp, my dad does his best on our yellow rotary.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Another Clash video

The Clash

I went to see the Joe Strummer documentary "The future is unwritten" last night at the IFC center on 6th avenue. I forgot how much my pre-teen and teenage years were influenced by the Clash. Unknowingly. Like millions of other people, I loved them. It was really interesting to see what Joe Strummer did after his tenure with that band, of which I knew next to nothing. I just remember being very sad to know he died in 2005.

continuing to work

After the impression the Domestic Departures workshop initially left on me, I began to wonder how to continue on in the presence of the other workshoppers in my own studio by myself?

The enormous weight of self criticism was lifted by the end of that week, only to erect itself again when I began to work again.

However, the joy of another beginning, the "oh yeah" connection felt between hand and heart were a small but profound reaffirmation of what I'm making and why.

I don't know why I'm still insecure about much of the work I make. It seems antithetical to all I've learned and all I've experienced. Is my ego still so fragile? Am I still that junior-high school girl? I've gotten so much better at speaking from my own position, and using my own voice to's interesting how petrified I can be about my own process.

The ease of continuation transforms that sometimes. Sometimes not.


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Give and Take, the link

To inform the viewer/visitor/ potential participant of this entry:

My father has been playing what he has re-named "Give and Take" for the past 40 years. A combination of Turkish chess and checkers, he's the reigning master.

He's been playing in Washington Square Park, and most recently at Union Square Park with anyone who would sit down to learn (and subsequentially, ultimately lose) from him. Unlike other players in the park, my father's interest has more to do with human interaction, education, and demonstrating his superior skill and ability. He's a staple, a regular, a very popular person in the neighborhood.

I think Duchamp would have liked to have learned his game from him. I know he became extremely interested in chess in his later life, but I truly believe he would have preferred Give and Take. It suits him better...I'll ask him the next time he calls us on the red phone...

Getting back to my dad: he's been the focus of curiosity for years, by passersby and fellow players alike. Articles have been written about him and his game in Games magazine (late 1990's); the above link brings the viewer to the first video interview/educational challange online. My dad is on his way to becoming rich and famous. He's thrilled.

I would encourage the viewer to watch all the videos; each one has a different flavor. All of them are humorous, informative, and magical if you know my dad. Even if you don't, he'd love it if you watched his videos.

Give and Take

Teaching Kids the Game of 'Give & Take'

My father has arrived in cyberspace. Follow this link, above.
His obsession with Give and Take, the Turkish version of chess and checkers, has paid off!

Rainy November

Bare Feat
Oil on Canvas

The cold dampness has settled into November.

In studio, at last alone, thinking about art, the commerce of art, how to remove art's "value" from one's concept of the creative process...thinking about art's participatory possibilities, the activation of more spaces, thinking about "the draw" (free art, free expression, free expression, free art)...

It's so interesting to work alone after working collaboratively for a week. The atmosphere shift is interesting to observe, smell, see. Motivation and continuation is tinged with recent nostalgia and something bittersweet.

Just visited my cousin's studio and saw her most recent sculpture (its' stunning, going to Asia for a show next week)...

I know my true quality is the floor. I've always loved the floor. I make the best work on the floor or about the floor. The hand made, the hand stained.

In a way Rose did clean that vestibule in Santa Ana because she was the one who taught me how to clean. In a way each of us made those pieces because we were in that space together at that time. I know what path I'm on, what kind of work I'm making. Ironically, money and finance and business don't play much of a part of the process.

Starting another conceptual necklace today. Looking at the red dot transfers. Thinking about knawing off the hand to save the body; giving away to receive more, letting go of the devil I know to face and accept and confront the one I don't.

Friday, November 9, 2007

more on DD

Basic concept of what the week was written to be:

Workshop: The artist duo Rosenclaire will be in residency and working with groups of artists at the Grand Central Art Center, Downtown Santa Ana Artist Village in correlation with the Domestic Departures exhibit; October 28th thru November 3rd, 2007. Public is invited to participate weekdays from 3-4:30 pm through November 3rd.

There will an additional artist’s reception and open studio on Saturday, November 3rd, 7:00pm-10pm, Artist-in-Residency Studio, Grand Central Art Center
For more information please call 714.567.7233 or go to

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Domestic Departures pictures

The Handlebars Saloon vestibule, before Hayley and I cleaned it. It was disgustingly dirty, used as a urinal, very unsightly. We both wanted to clean it from the first day, and finally on the last day brought new life into the old vestibule.

The laundry line was hung right in front of the front door of the main studio building, blocking the view of the fountain behind it. The sound of water could be heard (and thinking about washing away one's guilt, one's shame, holy water, purity, etc) as a component to the piece of "airing one's dirty laundry". I can envision 1,000's of these sheets hung up next to each other one day (soon).

Studio shots of "read aloud" and the red dot work, thinking about the circle of life, the red dot as commercial gain (sale of artwork), the title coming from the book "the status seekers" about social climbing and "fitting in"...Again, I can see these as seeds of future work (they already are I think)

Tuesday, November 6, 2007


Here is a video of Robert Rauchenberg about erasing a DeKooning drawing. It sometimes takes a moment to load, but worth it to stay around for:

Reminds me of Rosenclaire's work at Domestic Departures show, with William Kentridge

Day 1

storefront window, day 1/ Domestic Departures

storefront window, day 1/ Domestic Departures

life and/in art

The implications of the Domestic Departures workshop will take me a little longer than one day to process, but as I just returned to New York from Santa Ana I really wanted to begin to post about my experience, what I learned from others, how my approach to art making has shifted, etc.

It was incredibly interesting to work with 19 other artists in Santa Ana (a location antithetical to New York City, with its strip malls and driving culture). At first I was claustrophic; although there was vast amounts of physical space, somehow I was not open to being around US mass culture in that way (clearly, New York City is also a city of US mass culture, but the mall culture somewhat threw me for a loop).

The focus of the workshop was the theme Domestic Departures. That was the thing in the middle for us to work with/around/in, etc. This was not about us as individual artists with our own betties making our own art, but rather being individuals making art as facilitated by Rosenclaire's, also to facilitate the public to start thinking about Domestic Departures.

At first it was very difficult to wrap my head around this. Collective art but not collective in nature, collaborative but not for the sake of collaborating, individual but making work about Domestic Departures. But as the days progressed, the work began to generate itself, all of us, the public.

After getting over myself, things really began to move, both personally and for the group. The work was made because of and inspired by everything and every one. It's hard to express at the moment, but not one piece could have been made independently; each piece was because we were all there together around the theme.

Hayley and I cleaned a horribly dirty vestibule until it gleened with lavender. With yellow and pink gloves, mops and scrub brushes, we cleansed the space. Before and during the open studios for the studio our studio was housed in. The handlebars sign can be transformed into "handlebras" for future projects...