Artist’s Loyalty to Revolution & Culture

Touch Sanitation Performance, 1979-1980. Courtesy of Ronald Feldman Fine Arts.

Touch Sanitation Performance, 1979-1980. Courtesy of Ronald Feldman Fine Arts.

Mierle Laderman Ukeles made a powerful statement when interviewed by Tom Finkelpearl, she said,”I really believe that there could have been a revolution, linking up feminism with service workers, crossing gender with economic class.” Why is it could have been? Why is it could have been a revolution? Revolution has never left artists’ minds, mainly the artists loyal to their society and community. Artists who want to reach out, who want to come it  real, who want to occupy the free spaces, or find art at any space or place.

She raises another essential point, and that is the need for art presence in culture. Cultures can get rough and hard. It’s interesting how a garbageman can be noticed in other cultures when looked down upon, or pitied, rather than just appreciated. It’s marvelous how in the case of  Ukeles‘ Touch Sanitation Performance funding was involved, and an artistic project that made garbageman appreciated for who they are, they’re role, work and responsibility. Their existence within the society was not merely noticed or presented in artwork, it was validated.

Ukeles mentioned in the interview that culture wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t if it wasn’t for its survival. Art is coexists with culture. It’s in what we say or do. Art doesn’t have to be unusual. It can be seen once emphasized. This is exactly what Ukeles did. She turned a demeaned aspect of culture, and turned it into something meaningful, displayed, and visible. That’s the magic of art. It’s not just there for aesthetics, it’s to give meaning. What’s meaningful about a pile of garbage? It portrays our culture. It’s how we’ve been surviving as species.


It’s intriguing how Leon Tan described Noha’s ark as mythical, though Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) find that the prophet Noha’s arc story to be true.  Japan’s Ark Nova had a similar purpose, and that was to aid the survivors of the flood to live, and survive. Survival doesn’t just mean the continual of living, but to help through who still exists. Surviving a tragedy needs a certain amount of healing. Trauma remains unhealed if not expressed, and if it didn’t find an outlet to express itself, like through any form of art. The ark Nova seemed like an embryonic concert venue. It seems like a uterus from the inside, symbolizing rebirth. The act of birth is traumatizing for a human being, so it be in that kind of atmosphere seems healing. I’m not sure if that was the architects’ intentions. That’s how it appeared to me. It as almost a ritualistic experience. Once inside the womb, one is safe, and fed. The ark seemed like a safe and comfortable place where souls are being fed, fed by music.






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