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Minor Canon

Mierle Laderman Ukeles Maintenance Art Manifesto tee

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Mierle Laderman Ukeles (b. 1939) is a New York City-based artist known for her feminist and service-oriented artworks, which relate the idea of process in conceptual art to domestic and civic "maintenance."

In 1969, Ukeles wrote a manifesto entitled "Maintenance Art Manifesto 1969! Proposal for an exhibition 'CARE'", as she pondered her position as an artist and mother. Her claim was to challenge the domestic role of women by reframing herself as a "maintenance artist". Maintenance, for Ukeles, includes the household activities that keep things going, such as cooking, cleaning and child-rearing. Aside from "personal" or household maintenance, the manifesto also addressed "general" or public maintenance (cleaning a building, or a street) and earth maintenance, such as addressing polluted waters. Her exhibitions and performances were intended to bring awareness to the low social status of maintenance work, generally paying either minimum wage or no payments for housewives and workers. During her exhibitions, she performed the same tasks that she would perform in her daily life, including entertaining guests or partaking in a Mikveh.

Several of her performances in the 1970s involved the maintenance of art spaces, including the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford. At the Wadsworth Atheneum, Ukeles cleaned the steps of the museum's entrance, as part of the 1973 all-female exhibition c.7500, curated by Lucy Lippard.

Since 1977, she has been the Artist in Residence (unsalaried) of the New York City Department of Sanitation. She is the only artist to ever hold that position. In 2019, she received the Francis J. Greenburger Award for artists whom the art world knows to be of extraordinary merit but who have not been fully recognized by the public.

On the front, this shirt reproduces a selection of documentation of Ukeles' 1970s "Maintenance Art" performances, plus her handwritten signature from the 1969 manifesto. On the back, it includes the manifesto in full.

Further reading:

• 100% combed and ring-spun cotton
• Fabric weight: 4.2 oz/yd² (142 g/m²)
• Pre-shrunk fabric
• Side-seamed construction
• Shoulder-to-shoulder taping
• Blank product sourced from Guatemala, Nicaragua, Mexico, Honduras, or the US


Size guide

XS (inches) 27 16 ½ 31-34
S (inches) 28 18 34-37
M (inches) 29 20 38-41
L (inches) 30 22 42-45
XL (inches) 31 24 46-49
2XL (inches) 32 26 50-53
3XL (inches) 33 28 54-57


XS (cm) 68.6 42 78.7-86.4
S (cm) 71.1 45.7 86.4-94
M (cm) 73.7 50.8 96.5-104.1
L (cm) 76.2 55.9 106.7-114.3
XL (cm) 78.7 61 116.8-124.5
2XL (cm) 81.3 66 127-134.6
3XL (cm) 83.8 71.1 137.2-144.8