ivanka vacuuming by jennifer rubell
CulturalDC, as part of its 20th Anniversary Season, is thrilled to bring critically acclaimed American conceptual artist Jennifer Rubell to the nation’s capital for a limited engagement performance art piece.
Listen now to an in-depth conversation on Ivanka Vacuuming between Rubell and CulturalDC’s Executive Director Kristi Maiselman. Brought to you by our friends at Caandor Labs.
Inspired by a figure whose public persona incorporates an almost comically wide range of feminine identities – daughter, wife, mother, sister, model, working woman, blonde – Ivanka Vacuuming is simultaneously a visual celebration of a contemporary feminine icon; a portrait of our own relationship to that figure; and a questioning of our complicity in her role-playing.
“Our mission in making space for art often extends to expanding the city’s cultural landscape. Jennifer’s insightful work is perfect for the artistically savvy and civic-minded DC crowd. We’re always happy to provide a platform for timely, boundary-pushing installations like Ivanka Vacuuming,” says Kristi Maiselman, Executive Director of CulturalDC.
Entering the gallery space, viewers will notice a woman bearing a striking resemblance to that Ivanka, cleaning a plush pink carpet. In front of this scene is a white pedestal with a giant pile of crumbs on top. The public is invited to throw crumbs onto the carpet, watching as Ivanka elegantly vacuums up the mess, her smile never wavering. This process repeats itself for the entire duration of the performance.
The viewer throwing crumbs, and Ivanka vacuuming them, is not a stand-in for one feeling, one relationship or one point of view toward this powerful and sexualized female form. It is intentionally open to multiple, often contradictory interpretations that are as critical of the interpreter as they are of the subject.
“Here is what’s complicated: we enjoy throwing the crumbs for Ivanka to vacuum. That is the icky truth at the center of the work. It’s funny, it’s pleasurable, it makes us feel powerful, and we want to do it more,” notes Rubell. “We like having the power to elicit a specific and certain response. Also, we know she’ll keep vacuuming whether we do it or not, so it’s not really our fault, right?”
About the artist
Jennifer Rubell (b. 1970) is an American conceptual artist whose work centers on the viewer’s physical interaction with the object. She works in a wide variety of participatory mediums ranging from interactive sculpture, painting and video to food performance. She lives and works in New York City. LEARN MORE
PRAISE FOR JENNIFER RUBELL