Luiselli was commissioned to write a new piece of fiction to accompany a show at Galeria Jumex, a contemporary art museum on the fringes of Mexico City funded by a juice factory. The author decided to collaborate with factory workers, sending them each chapter of her novel as she wrote it, and allowing their feedback to shape the next installment.

"To call something garbage means stripping the materials of their inherent characteristics. So that even though differences are obvious, hard becomes the same as soft, wet as dry, heavy as light, moldy old sour cream as a shoe, wet leaves as old barbells—they become the same things. The entire culture colludes in this un-naming."

Her genius was not in her ability to juggle the two supposedly distinct types of labour – which many have done – but in finding a way to do them at the exact same time. She verbed the noun.

The artist kneels at the top of some steps and pours a bucket of water down them in order to clean.

“Maintenance is a drag; it takes all the fucking time.”—Ukeles

clean your desk, wash the dishes, clean the floor, wash your clothes, wash your toes, change the baby’s diaper, finish the report, correct the typos, mend the fence, keep the customer happy, throw out the stinking garbage, watch out don’t put things in your nose, what shall I wear, I have no sox, pay your bills, don’t litter, save string, wash your hair, change the sheets, go to the store, I’m out of perfume, say it again—he doesn’t understand, seal it again—it leaks, go to work, this art is dusty, clear the table, call him again, flush the toilet, stay young.

Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Manifesto for Maintenance Art, 1969

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