Cleaning Conditions (2013)
Suzanne Lacy with Meg Parnell

In 1995, Allan Kaprow gave the following text to Hans Ulrich Obrist for Obrist’s Do It! project: 

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 

Lacy’s homage to Kaprow offered an ironic reinvention of this text through the lenses of gender and arts activism. Her two-week performance was, in a sense, a continuation of conversations between Lacy and Kaprow throughout the 1970s, and it also replicated post-performance conversations Kaprow convened during his own works. Beginning in front of Work, a painting by Ford Madox Brown in the Pre-Raphaelite Gallery, teams of “sweepers” from labor and immigration organizations cleaned the galleries each day, and following Kaprow’s instructions redistributed a very visible “litter” of political printed materials onto the floors. After the cleaning, questions on the intersection of immigration, labor, living wage and the role of women in the care and service industries were raised through a series of conversations that included activists, politicians, students and the public. In addition, the Manchester Gallery staff gathered in private cross-sector conversations on their own work and its relationship to the global gendering of care and service. 

Produced by Meg Parnell. Curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist, Do It! was an exhibition at the Manchester Art Gallery and Manchester Arts Festival. 


Obrist, Hans Ulrich, Do It: The Compendium, (2013, Independent Curators International/D.A.P.)