Mierle Laderman Ukeles
Re-spect, art, the city, care

Investigation by Julien Zerbone

Summary

Sometimes we come across an artist whose work, when we see it for the first time, makes us wonder how we could have missed them. An artist offering insightful responses to questions we can barely formulate. Through her integration of care, institutional critique, the essentials of conceptual art, ecology, and feminism, and in her reflections on and alongside the working class, Mierle Laderman Ukeles is one such artist. Of the very few projects she created outside the USA, only one was made in France: a piece entitled Re-spect, a Work Ballet – an outdoor ballet involving public service employees and their trucks—created in 1993 in Givors, a small industrial city on the banks of the Rhone between Lyon and Saint-Étienne. Following a succinct overview of some of her projects, I would like to retrace the genesis, context and process behind this particular piece.

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