Mierle Laderman Ukeles
Considered the “artist-in-residence” at the New York City Department of Sanitation since 1977, spent one and one half years traveling around the city talking to sanitation workers and officials. After this, she did an eleven-
month performance piece called “Touch Sanitation” in which she went to the five boroughs of New York and personally
shook the hand of every one of the city’s 8,500 sanitation workers, thanking each “for keeping New York City alive.”
This was an effort to encourage a greater understanding of the importance of the work done by workers whom Scala refers to as the “‘untouchables’ of metropolitan culture.” Other works include sculptures made from landfill materials, waste-hauling vehicles, and disused equipment from the sanitation department.