Maid in the USA examines stereotypes of Latin American immigrants and makes visible labor that often goes unseen. Clad in a dress typically worn for Cumbia, a traditional Colombian dance, the artist will clean the inside of the glass structure surrounding the Performance Bridge, from the Museum’s opening at 10am until its 5pm closing. Coinciding with Labor Day and utilizing the Performance Bridge’s transparency, the artist exposes work that is often hidden from view or simply ignored.
Installed 9 feet above the ground, within the museum’s glass entryway, the Performance Bridge creates a transparent glass box, visible from both the street and the museum’s interior. This seemingly neutral space evokes the use of the cube throughout 20th and 21stcentury visual art, from the white cube gallery environment to the neutral cubes of Minimalist sculpture. Mayorga disrupts this supposedly neutral space, foregrounding issues of race, immigration, and labor. While the work necessary to maintain these pristine, neutral spaces normally goes unseen, Mayorga calls attention to this labor and our assumptions about the people who perform it.
Mayorga’s assumption of the maintenance role harkens back to earlier performance work, most specifically Mierle Laderman Ukeles’ Manifesto for Maintenance Art (1969) andHartford Wash: Washing Tracks, Maintenance Outside (1973),which involved the artist scrubbing the steps of the Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, CT. Mayorga builds on this canonical work of feminist performance art, engaging with contemporary issues surrounding labor, immigration, and visibility.
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