It was a pleasure working assisting artist Suzanne Lacy, an also performing, in her homage to Allan Kaprow at Manchester Art Gallery. She is not only a brilliant artist, socially and politically engaged, but she also had the privilege to have as a friend and mentor Alan Kaprow, one of the Environmental Performance project’s top references.
Cleaning Conditions by Suzanne Lacy was more than a performance. It was part of Do it, a group art show, curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist for MIF 2013, in which over 20 years artists have interpreted and enacted the most varied written instructions by renowned artists like Yoko Ono, Joan Brossa, Louise Bourgeois and Franz West.
These instructions ranged from the active and the absurd to the profound and the philosophical, some were to be accomplished at the gallery and others to be taken away and carried out at home.
This is the instruction that Suzanne Lacy performed:
Sweeping the dust from the floor of a room, spreading the dust in another room so it won’t be noticed. Continuing daily Allan Kaprow, 1995
Suzanne invited people who are not cleaners, to come to the gallery and sweep its floors as part of the cleaning team in the gallery. These were people who likes art but also were invited campaigners for workers rights, local councillors, immigrants workers, unions..
Lacy wanted to interpret Kaprow’s instruction through the lenses of gender and activism, provocatively framing the instruction in terms of the social and political climate in Manchester. Conversations on immigration, class and the struggle for global equity were framed within a context of current issues in women’s role in the care and service industries and the corporatisation of such labour.
The act of sweeping was the starting point.