With this week lecture relating to topics about Ecology, I am intrigued that art plays a major role in bringing up awareness that humans in today’s society may not be aware of. One artist that sparked my interest was Mierle Landerman Ukeles. The reason for my interest in Ukeles is the work and action she is taking to improve the lives of humans in New York City. Ukeles’s work usually integrates research into the technical and scientific aspects of waste management and recycling, and investigations of associated human processes. We can see this idea of sanitation through several of her works, the first being in Manifesto! Maintenance Art.
In this work, Ukeles is scrubbing and cleaning the steps of a store. From a distance, we can see potentially the store owner grazing as to what Ukeles is doing in front of her store. What makes this image so powerful is the initiative and message that Ukele is sending to the public. With New York City growing around the 1970s, Ukele explains to us that it is important to maintain the city and its sanitation. If the streets and and city is not clean, then the air surrounding the city becomes polluted and the citizens would potentially breathe polluted air; those who have asthma are at greater risk because polluted air can restrict air flow to the lungs, causing a child to experience an asthma attack. How does this relate to today’s society?
In today’s society, many people disregard the importance of sanitation. People believe and rely on street cleaners and garbage disposer trucks to do their job and expect the city to be clean. However, that is not always the case. We ourselves must be like Ukele and take responsibility in maintaining the environment of the city. If we as human beings don’t throw away our trash in the garbage, how do we expect garbage workers to do their job? Garbage workers are not our servant and we shouldn’t be expecting them to follow us everywhere cleaning our mess. Taking the initiative in cleaning the streets and working together to create a less polluted city is what Ukele strive for and is what we need to do also.
What’s also important in sanitation is the separation of trash and recycling materials and Ukele’s Flow City also addresses this issue
In this photo, Ukele is seen in a factory where garbage trucks dump garbage for sorting between trash and recycles. This project by Ukele was created to engage viewers to recycle items that are recyclable. Another problem in today’s society pertaining to ecology is recycling. Recycling is a big part of protecting the environment and if people don’t take the responsibility in separating recyclable materials from trash, then animals will perish because of these wastes.
Many of my views on ecology can be related to Mierle Landerman Ukeles. I find it important that part of my responsibility as a citizen of San Diego or wherever I go is to pick up after myself and recycle. While cleaning the sidewalk may not be an everyday thing in today’s society, recycling and throwing away trash is. Take the initiative and pick up trash if they are lying around. If you think about it, throwing away a piece of trash not only keeps the city clean, but it keeps birds and animals away from eating the trash that we leave behind.
~ Kevin Trieu-Nguyen