Doing the laundry for my family of four is exhausting, relentless and monotonous. It is a daily performance of the unconditional love and care I provide for my partner and children. Also, it smells good. All of this and more is reflected in Performative Memory, an installation by Dora Lisa Rosenbaum, viewable virtually while the Monterey Museum of Art is closed to the public. What Rosenbaum offers is a laundry room deconstructed and remade through the tools of an artist: the lines of a washing machine hand-embroidered to scale on a cotton sheet, stiff ironed undershirts represented as delicate collagraphs, prayer candles scented with popular detergents, a drying rack meticulously silhouetted in ghostly cut-out acetate, hundreds of worn blocks of amber soap done as etchings and piled monumentally high. “Maintenance Art” was what Mierle Laderman Ukeles named it back in 1969, when as a young mother she struggled to find time for both art making and care taking. It feels no less necessary a category in 2021.
—Lori Waxman 2021-03-17 11:35 AM