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Artworks by women artists on 30 topics
related to Feminism and Contemporary Art


About this topic: Cleaning/Maintenance Work

In this topic, "cleaning" and "maintenance" activities are explored. Women's roles as domestic servants, maids, and manual workers at home and in offices is the subject but it is their activity and their labour which is the focus. The category of "the domestic" is inadequate to look at women's role in maintaining life at home and at work. Expelling dirt or "maintaining standards" is a part of giving care to a family, to a workplace, to a community, to a city. Against the image of the "housewife" as the only model for cleaning work, women's labour is the question explored: whether this is paid labour outside the home, repetitive labour, a labour of love or artist's labour.

  1. Maja van Hall (Sweden) Drudge (filosloof) (1967 - 2003) polyester 180 x 300 x 120 cm     

  2.  Berwick Street Collective (Marc Karlin, Mary Kelly, James Scott and Humphry Trevelyan) (UK) The Nightcleaners (part 1) (1970 - 1975) 16 mm film, transferred to tape, 90 mins   Lux Archive  

  3. Betye Saar (USA) The Liberation of Aunt Jemina (1972) mixed media 11 3/4 x 8 x 2 3/4 "     

  4. Mierle Ukeles (USA) Hartford Wash: Washing, Tracks, Maintenance, Outside (1973) performance, Hartford Connecticut Museum steps      

  5. Kate Walker (UK) Death of a Housewife (1974) installation found objects, assemblage, Women's Centre, Radnor Terrace, London      

  6. Marina Abramovic (Serbia, USA, The Netherlands) Art Must be Beautiful, Artist Must be Beautiful (1975) video 14.11 min    Montevideo, Amsterdam 

  7. Martha Rosler (USA) Tijuana Maid (Food Novel 4) (1975) Print Serial postcard novel (Spanish with english translation) in 12 parts, First mailed October 1975 -- February 1976 Printing process on paper-card stock, printed by Moonlite Blue, La Jolla (California) and by Martha Rosler on "Electro Gestetner" 11.3 x   Generali Foundation (documentation)  

  8.  Mother Art (USA) Laundryworks (1977) performances in laundromats, Los Angeles      

  9. Lyndal Jones (Australia) At Home (1977 - 1980) performances       

  10. Alexis Hunter (UK, New Zealand) The Marxist's Wife (still does the Housework) (1978 - 2005)  20 colour laser copies on archival paper, in 4 panels. 109.5 x 36 cm     

  11. Maria Pininska-Beres (Poland) Washing II (1981) performance/action, washing and hanging out cloths that spell 'feminism', in Posnan, after Washing I (1980)      

  12. Lida Abdul (USA, Afghanistan) Washing Away Performance (1988) videostill of performance actions washing books until they fall apart 75 x 100 cm     

  13. Shu Lea Cheang (USA) Color Schemes (1989) video, presented as installation form (with a self-service washing machine) at the Whitney Museum in 1990   Video Data Bank  

  14. Kirsten Justesen (Denmark) MER MAID / HAV FRUE ... and you have nothing to lose, but your vacuumcleaner… (1990) Archival Pigment Print on Somerset Satin Enhanced, 135 x 147 cm      

  15. Colette Urban (Canada) Landing Here (1992) performance, Sir Wilfred Grenfell College Art Gallery, Newfoundland      

  16. Marilyn Arsem (USA) Stirring, Spinning, Sweeping (1992) performance, different venues, USA      

  17. Janine Antoni (USA) Loving Care (1993) performance, washing floor with hairdye, Anthony D'Offay Gallery      

  18. Lisa  Strombeck (Sweden) Lady in Red (1996) video 4.04 min     

  19. Sora Kim (Korea) Very Up & Very Down (1998) Unlimited Concept Co. Cleaning Dept. project      

  20. Monica Bonvicini (France, Italy) Hammering Out (An Old Argument) (1998) video 31.55 min    Frac Lorraine, Metz 

  21. Gitte Villesen (Denmark) 35 Pairs (1998) colour photographs    Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen  

  22. Masha Chuikova (Russia) Reading Housewife (1999) series of actions, performances, at nightclubs, art galleries in Moscow and elsewhere cooking and cleaning      

  23. Margaret Dragu (FADO with Paul Couillard) (Canada) Cleaning and Loving (It) (2000) street performance, Toronto, recorded on video (13 mins)      

  24. Ene-Liis Semper (Estonia) Licked Room (2000) white room, licked by artist in performance, Manifesta 3, Ljubljana      

  25. Tonia Di Risio (Canada) Good Housekeeping (2001) colour video, 4' 55" min      

  26. Maja Bajevic (Bosnia-Herzogovina, France) Women at Work - Washing Up (2001) video of performance, Imam, Istanbul 15.18 min     

  27. Kim Soo-ja (Korea, USA) A Laundry Woman (2001 - 2002) installations with used Korean bed sheets, tibetan monk chants, fans, dimensions variable      

  28. Agnes Eperjesi (Hungary) A Sentence on Housework (2002 - 2009) 250 c-prints on plexiglas 10 x 10 cm or 10 x 15 cm each      

  29. Alicja Zebrowska (Poland) exertising (2004) public action, Ljubljana with city cleaning department    Festival of Women X  

  30. Melanie Bonajo (The Netherlands) Furniture Bondage 03 Janneke (2007) colour photo 150 x 130 cm    MMK Arnhem 

  31. Raeda Sa'adeh (France) Vacuum (2007) Video installation, colour, sound 17 min    Frac Lorraine, Metz 

  32. Klara Liden (Sweden) Unheimlich Manöver (2007) museum installation, made from objects in artists' 30 sqm flat of all its furniture, kitchen utensils and knickknacks and used them to build a structure   Modern Museet  

  33. Sylvia Ziranek (UK) NOT UNDIRTY (2011) performance, Wellcome Institute, London       see Silvia Ziranek Wall Works (KT press, 2013)