Event - From Touch Sanitation (1979-1980) to For ⟶ forever… (2020):

From Touch Sanitation (1979-1980) to For ⟶ forever… (2020):

11.12.20, 1:00 pm

Image: Mierle Laderman Ukeles, For ⟶ forever…, 2020. Vinyl on the Queens Museum facade facing Grand Central Parkway. 24.3 ft x 195 ft. A three-part public art initiative also on view on the large-scale digital billboard at 20 Times Square and across digital displays throughout the MTA subway and rail system. Presented by the Queens Museum, Times Square Arts, and MTA Arts & Design. © Mierle Laderman Ukeles. Photo: Hai Zhang.

From Touch Sanitation (1979-1980) to For ⟶ forever… (2020): Two Works by Mierle Laderman Ukeles Respond to a City in Crisis


In partnership with the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation, artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles, SDRF Executive and Artistic Director Sara Reisman, and QM Executive Director Sally Tallant discuss the eerie connection between two NYC crises: the fiscal crisis of the 1970’s and the COVID-19 crisis. The response to these crises is what binds and fuels Ukeles’ Touch Sanitation (1979-1980); her current three-part public art installation For   forever… with Queens Museum, Times Square Arts, and MTA Arts & Design; as well as her participation in the Foundation’s current exhibition To Cast Too Bold A Shadow.


The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation and Queens Museum recently partnered to realize Mierle Laderman Ukeles’ museum-wide retrospective Mierle Laderman Ukeles: Maintenance Art at Queens Museum in 2016-2017.


Access Information: This event has closed captioning as well as ASL interpretation.




Since 1977, Mierle Laderman Ukeles continues as the official, unsalaried Artist in Residence for the NYC Department of Sanitation.  Currently, she is presenting a three-part public art installation For  ⟶  forever… with Queens Museum, Times Square Arts, and MTA Arts & Design. Her works are in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum; Guggenheim Museum; the Art Institute of Chicago (promised gift); Migros Museum, Zurich; Wadsworth Atheneum Museum; Smith College Museum; and the Jewish Museum, NYC.  In 2019, she was the commencement speaker at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she received an Honorary Doctorate, and keynote speaker at the International Open Engagement Conference in 2014, Ukeles is a Guggenheim Fellow and recipient of many grants and fellowships from the NEA, NYSCA, Joan Mitchell, Andy Warhol, and Anonymous Was a Woman Foundations, among others. She continues work on Landing, the first permanent Percent for Art public artwork for Freshkills Park, Staten Island, and is represented by Ronald Feldman Fine Arts, New York. She has exhibited internationally, including at the Kunstsammlung Nordrheim-Westfalen, Dusseldorf;  Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford; Whitney Museum; MoMA PS1; LAMoCA; Tel Aviv Museum; Sharjah Biennial 8; Echigo Tsumari Triennial, 2007 and 2012; Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco; The Eighth Floor, NYC, Smack Mellon, Brooklyn; Wellcome Trust, London; Creative Time, New York; Brooklyn Museum; Haus der Kunst, Munich; the 13th Istanbul Biennial; Manifesta 10, St. Petersburg; and Manifesta 11, Zurich; and a museum wide career survey exhibition at the Queens Museum in 2016-2017.


Sara Reisman is a curator and writer with expertise in public art, social practice, and politically-engaged art. As Executive and Artistic Director of the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation she has organized exhibitions at The 8th Floor in New York City, most recently To Cast Too Bold A Shadow, The Watchers, and Relational Economies: Labor over Capital. Recent books include Mobilizing Pedagogy: Two Projects in the Americas by Pablo Helguera and Suzanne Lacy with Pilar Riaño-Alcalá (Amherst College Press), and Elia Alba: The Supper Club (Hirmer Publishers), both 2019.  From 2008 to 2014, Reisman served as Director of New York City’s Percent for Art program, and has worked in curatorial roles at the Queens Museum (2008), the New Museum (2005-2006), and the Philadelphia ICA (2004-2005).  She was 2011 and 2020 critic-in-residence at Art Omi, a visual artists residency in upstate New York, and a 2013 Marica Vilcek Curatorial Fellow with the Foundation for a Civil Society. Reisman has taught art history and curatorial practice at the University of Pennsylvania, State University of New York – Purchase College, and since 2016, within the MA in Curatorial Practice Program at the School of Visual Arts.


Sally Tallant is the President and Executive Director of the Queens Museum, New York. She was previously Director of Liverpool Biennial from 2011-2019 and Head of Programmes at the Serpentine Gallery, London from 2001-2011. She has curated exhibitions in a wide range of contexts including galleries, museums, public spaces and non-arts contexts and is a regular contributor to conferences nationally and internationally. In 2018 she was awarded an OBE for services to the Arts in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.


The Rubin Foundation believes in art as a cornerstone of cohesive, sustainable communities and greater participation in civic life. In its mission to make art available to the broader public, in particular to underserved communities, the Foundation provides direct support to, and facilitates partnerships between, cultural organizations and advocates of social justice across the public and private sectors. Through grantmaking, the Foundation supports cross-disciplinary work connecting art with social justice via experimental collaborations, as well as extending cultural resources to organizations and areas of New York City in need. 

For ⟶ forever…’s presentation at the Queens Museum is made possible with the support of the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation. Special thanks to the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation and Panny Chayapumh for her design work across the three sites.