Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Romeo and Juliet Sequence from Snow Workers' Ballet, July 21, 2003, color photograph, 16 x 20 inches. Courtesy of the artist and Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York.
Mierle Laderman Ukeles's 1969 manifesto Maintenance Art: Proposal for an Exhibition represents a major intervention in feminist performance practices and public art. The proposition argues for the intimate relationship between creative production in the public sphere and domestic labor—a relationship whose intricacies and ramifications Ukeles has been unraveling, in one form or another, ever since. Starting in 1977, she became an unsalaried artist-in-residence at the New York Department of Sanitation, a position that enabled her to introduce radical public art as mainstream culture into an urban system serving and owned by the municipal population. Although regularly featured in anthology publications regarding art and the ecology, art in urban space, and feminist art, there is yet to be a significant publication that addresses the singular contribution of Ukeles's practice across disciplinary boundaries. Kunstverein invites leading art historians, ecologists, and architects to discuss Ukeles's landmark practice in a larger social, economic, and political context. Through compilation of this research, Kunstverein produces a monographic publication focusing on Ukeles's ballet works, a series of performances that activated sociourban choreographies of workers, trucks, barges, and hundreds of tons of recyclables in cities across the globe.
Mierle Laderman Ukeles (born 1939, Denver, CO) is a New York–based artist known for her feminist and service oriented artwork. In 1969, she wrote a manifesto entitled Maintenance Art–Proposal for an exhibition, challenging the domestic role of women and proclaiming herself a "maintenance artist." Maintenance, for Ukeles, is the realm of human activities that keeps things going, such as cooking, cleaning and child-rearing, and her performances in the 1970s included the cleaning of art galleries. Ukeles has exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2007, 1997); P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, New York (2007, 1988); Jewish Museum, New York (1986); and the Whitney (1985, 1978, 1976). A 1998 solo exhibition at the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, CT, surveyed her work from 1969 to 1984.
Kari Conte, project editor, is the program director of the International Studio and Curatorial Program (ISCP), and a curator and writer. She received an MA from the Royal College of Art in contemporary art curation and most recently worked in the exhibitions department at Whitechapel Gallery in London. Previously, she worked at several New York institutions and galleries including Vivian Horan Fine Art and apexart. She has organized over thirty international exhibitions, lectured at Bard College and Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, and her writing has been published by the Tel Aviv Museum of Art and Catalogue, among others.
Krist Gruijthuijsen is a freelance curator, writer, and cofounding director of Kunstverein, who is based in Amsterdam. Recently, he has been appointed artistic director of the second edition of De Straat van Sculpturen (Bijlmermeer, Amsterdam), The Third Sculpture (opening May 2012). He was curatorial advisor for Manifesta 7; Trentino/Südtirol/Alto Adige for which he curated the project Matter of Fact; satellite curator for Bonniers Konsthall in Stockholm; and is currently advisory member for the Mondriaan Foundation, the Foundation of Visual Art in the Netherlands (Fonds BKVB), and the Artist Pension Trust. He has given lectures throughout Europe and occasionally writes for magazines such as Metropolis M and Idea Art + Society. He teaches at HISK, Ghent.
Maxine Kopsa is an independent writer, curator, and cofounding director of Kunstverein, who is based in Amsterdam. She is also associate editor of the contemporary art magazine Metropolis M and a regular tutor at the Werkplaats Typografie in Arnhem. She was the second recipient of the Hall Curatorial Fellowship at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, in Ridgefield, Connecticut, and in 2007, she participated in the AIT Residency in Tokyo, Japan. She has contributed to various publications including Archis, Frieze, Dot Dot Dot, Framework, and Art on Paper, as well as to catalogues on the work of Germaine Kruip, Gabriel Kuri, Aernout Mik, Jennifer Tee, and Maaike Schoorel.
Kunstverein was founded in Amsterdam in September 2009 with a one-year trial to test the viability of a member-based model for contemporary art projects. At the end of this period, and with over 250 members, we safely confirmed the need for a community and a venue that puts forward a specific and concentrated platform for presentations in a private-public context. In November 2009 a Kunstverein launched in New York as part of Performa 09. A year later, in November 2010, Milano Kunstverein opened with a series of events spread throughout the city.
The alternative model of Kunstverein is a creative hijacking of the German 'Kunstverein' or 'Art Society' that entails building up and working with an engaged membership. People (supporters) who decide to become members back Kunstverein both literally (monetarily) and conceptually (as audience and with active feedback). Each Kunstverein has developed its own operating structure to meet local needs and conditions.