Thursday, March 7, 2013

Mission Statment

Mission Statement

Meaning Cleaning is an ongoing collaborative performance initiated by Hayley Severns and Angela Rose Voulgarelis. Since 2007 we have cleaned public spaces together as a way to subvert traditional ideas of what “women’s/domestic work” implies in today’s society, and to play with notions of acceptable public behavior and social norms. We’ve done this through the simple intervention of cleaning in public – an action that is usually done in private.

Dressed in professional attire and armed with rubber gloves, mops, brooms and eco-friendly cleaning products, we mop, sweep, and clean areas in an unannounced and unexpected way. We clean areas of urban centers that are typically used for transportation, and that are often very dirty: subway stations, sidewalks, train cars, etc. As we work, we welcome engagement from passersby. Our actions become conversation starters, as it is highly unusual for two white women dressed in suits to be cleaning the streets of any urban center.

Our performances take responsibility for our shared urban environment, which is why we feel strongly that Meaning Cleaning is pertinent to ArteUtil’s mission statement. We bring to light what we as a community discard and highlight the ethos of human condition. Our actions provide a fundamentally different approach to the perceived lack of care for the immediate environment. Our focus as artists is on the foundation beneath our feet, to be reminded of our interconnection and impermanent nature. Our work maintains the lineage of Feminist and Conceptual artists before us, primarily Mierle Laderman Ukeles, Marina Abronovic, and Joseph Beuys.

Meaning Cleaning challenges the civic notions of women’s work and encourages a greater sense of social responsibility. It also offers an alternative to the product – driven Art market. When two white women begin cleaning a subway platform, it brings attention to the action. Why? Is this because one is typically used to seeing men of color wearing brightly colored jumpsuits cleaning in public? Is taking care of public space considered a low-level, humiliating job? Or can it be sublime, a meditation? Our work is an ephemeral action, and only exists in the time it takes to clean a given area. It is art for the sake of social justice, and is not made as a commodity.
Our public cleanings are public cleanings: we clean the subway to clean the subway. We connect a local action with a universal compassion. In light of the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, and mounting fears of global overpopulation and climate change, Meaning Cleaning’s message is more important than ever to today’s society. We feel that one doesn’t need a natural disaster as a reason to act more humanely towards another human being. Creating a space for this can occur on any given day.

We work in the real world: in subway stations, on city streets. This non-art context brings the aspect of social justice and social sculpture to our work. Our performances remain the same regardless of where they are located. Meaning Cleaning reflects the functions of the everyday, but is done in public rather than in private. It is only because both artist initiators happen to live in New York that Meaning Cleaning has occurred primarily in New York. However, Meaning Cleaning can be implemented anywhere.

Meaning Cleaning’s strength is in its ability to grow with participation from the public. It is a facilitated action. Meaning Cleaning is not about us as individuals, but points to a more inclusive position within society. As such, we encourage participation from passersby, who have helped us clean, and have often revealed very intimate aspects about themselves in the process.

Meaning Cleaning calls attention to the way we relate with our environment, and offers a way to take care of it in a holistic and simple way. Anyone can do it; our actions merely shine a light on one way to take care of one another by cleaning the public spaces we all use.

Meaning Cleaning’s work is done with grace and earnestness. We bring the same amount of care to our public cleanings as we do to every other artistic action we do. We clean the streets with the same reverence with which we clean our own homes. We take this project seriously, and understand its transformative potential. We slow down the action of cleaning in public; we get in the way of people walking by; we intervene in normal flows of foot traffic so that passersby take notice of the actions we are doing.

One of the objectives of Meaning Cleaning is to underscore the human element of interconnection, which tends to get overlooked in everyday life. By changing the context of an action, such as cleaning in public rather than cleaning in private, it brings attention to that action. Because our work points to the care and upkeep of a shared environment, it calls attention to a broader sense of social responsibility.

A secondary intention is to offer an alternative to the economically-driven Art world. We have chosen to work with the immaterial – to draw attention to an action rather than produce work that can be bought and sold. Once we finish cleaning a given area, the work gets erased by passersby. It only exists through the interactions that occur while we are working, and through its documentation. Our performances go largely unnoticed as they are taking place, and disappear completely once we stop cleaning.

Beneficial outcome
The most obvious benefit is that each space we work in gets very clean! This is done for the benefit of the community, not just for our own satisfaction. Meaning Cleaning’s performances are innovative in that we are not the focus of the work; the work is the focus of the work. Our egos are out of the equation. That, perhaps, is another beneficial outcome.

Additionally, our work offers an alternative to what art can signify. Our actions provide a different approach to what art points towards, what the measure of art can be, and what the role of the artist can be in society. What we are saying is that art can be accessed by doing anything, even by cleaning the subways in New York City.

Meaning Cleaning has been met with mixed reviews: although we’ve cleaning public areas very thoroughly, onlookers have had a wide range of reactions – from curiosity to scathing judgment. We have organized public cleanings that have included a multitude of volunteers, and have received correspondences from artists and art groups from different areas of the world who are interested in hosting similar projects.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

If you see something, say something...

E Train, NYC Subway

Revival 2012, Hello 2013! Now.Here.This.

Greetings! After a brief haitus, we're back! Get ready... Check out Meaning Cleaning's feature in the Contemporary Arts Blog: Now.Here.This. Many thanks to the publishers for their beautiful presentation of Meaning Cleaning and their continued support in the evolution of this project's bright future.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Friday, June 12, 2009

June 5, 2009

72nd street subway station, NYC

Monday, June 1, 2009

From The Everyday

"Every day thousands upon thousands of women sweep up the dust which has gathered imperceptibly since the previous day. After every meal, too numerous to count, they wash the dishes and saucepans. For times too numerous to count, by hand or in the machine they remove the dirt which has built up bit by bit on sheets and clothes; they stop up the holes the gentle rubbing of heels inevitably makes; they fill emptied cupboards and refrigerators with packets of pasta and kilos of fruit and vegetables... [which explains the definition of everyday life:] The ensemble of activities which of necessity result from the general processes of development: evolution, growth and ageing, of biological or social protection or change, those processes which escape immediate notice and which are only perceptible on their consequences."

pg. 30

Friday, April 10, 2009

Thursday, April 9, 2009

I am drawn to sweeping on Wall Street dressed like business women.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Bring out the "DIRT"

as defined by wikipedia:

Corruption is essentially termed as an "impairment of integrity, virtue or moral principle; depravity, decay, and/or an inducement to wrong by improper or unlawful means, a departure from the original or from what is pure or correct, and/or an agency or influence that corrupts."[1]

Corruption, when applied as a technical term, is a general concept describing any organized, interdependent system in which part of the system is either not performing duties it was originally intended to, or performing them in an improper way, to the detriment of the system's original purpose.

Its terminological usage possesses connotations of evil, malignance, sickness, and loss of innocence or purity.

Being the filter of what is generalized into more specifics (via actions and stories), I believe we may create openings and feelings of joy by bringing out the "dirt."

I like collaborations and am so happy that "WE" (all involved in the facilitations) as Meaning Cleaning are able to provide a forum of open discussion and participation. The duties performed are kept within an original intention which is always under scrutiny. What's the original intention? I feel it's when we're taking care of what has been brought to our attention as detri-MENTAL, honestly, and without too much over judgement. Then we begin slowly re-moving the "dirt", therefore, transforming situations. The scenarios are in plenty and am so charged to keep up our creative energy, collaborative efforts, and truthfully (sometimes brutally honest, but never unkind) conversations. I feel we're gearing up, moving with guidance, history, and current information that is both personal and universal in order to translate via action that which is both private and public experience.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Meaning Cleaning critique thoughts

the critique went really well - it was really intense, and brought up a lot of emotions for me.
the next day i was destroyed, and wound up binge eating and not leaving my couch.

As I have begun to pick myself up this week, and after talking with / to Hayley this afternoon, I see things I am attracted to in Meaning Cleaning itself. It's personally interesting for me to put myself in the public, to bring "private" work outside. I really like the interaction, or lack thereof, with passersby.

The action of public cleaning can bring to light damaged systems that allow so much to fall into such disrepair.

The action of public cleaning can also be a mirror to show possibilities of what another structure can look like.

The action of public cleaning can be both reflective and highlighting - just like the back paintings, just like the hand held mirrors.
To provide a space of real communication seems to be interesting both of us - when we retold the group stories that were told to us, we both thought "that's it!" or at least part of it.

Then the act of hidden microphones and recording others' stops being weird and becomes unnecessary.
It's our voices that retell the stories, placing us in the center of our own work.
It's the choice of location, the choice of attire, the choice of practice...

The action of public cleaning also brings out a rage from within me I am afraid to let it out.
I see the macrocosm of how poorly we treat ourselves as human beings, that I often wonder what the point is of what we are doing. But then I hear the most poignant and tragic story by someone who gets completely what we are doing, and understands everything in the three minutes she is with us. Then she's gone and I think our work has made a difference.

It's important I know to distill what it is one is truly interested in.
I have to admit, I wanted the quick fix, the easy solution.
I wanted the group to tell me what to do.
I was tired of making decisions.
But after a few days, I feel like I am able to see more clearly what it is I'm interested in.
Poor Hayley had to listen to me have a complete breakdown/temper tantrum at the cafe today.
She is a very patient person

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Photos by Richard Caplan

Critics pan a plan to close the city's main intake center for homeless men and lease it to developers. > By Tram Whitehurst

More can be found at:
City Limits WEEKLY #640
May 19, 2008

-The former Bellevue Psychiatric Hospital, with this entrance on East 29th Street at First Avenue, is a homeless men's intake center -- but could be redeveloped into a hotel and conference center.

-And local community groups and residents argue that moving the intake center to Crown Heights will further burden a neighborhood that they say is already oversaturated with social service facilities. An analysis of city and state data by the Crown Heights Revitalization Movement (CHARM) found that Community Board 8, where the Armory is located, houses more residential social service beds per acre than any other Brooklyn community—in fact, more than five times the borough average. The Armory also has had a reputation for poor management, overcrowding and dangerous living conditions among the homeless and those who work with them.

Saturday, March 7, 2009


Meaning Cleaning is happy to hostess the next critique - even though it's technically at Angela's house, we would like to discuss and think about our most recent collaboration: video documentation of our October 11 performance on 14th street. We have been collaborating with an amazing video editor, and are looking forward to discuss and critique the work that Meaning Cleaning has done this far - perhaps as well to discuss our concepts for the future.

Some things that have come up for us during the editing process:

Is video documentation of performance work an art form in and of itself?
Is our video too much one or the other - meaning, too artsy or too stark?
Does it communicate clearly what it is we are doing?
Is the video too long or too short?
Where could we exhibit this work to underscore the notions of bringing "private" / domestic work into the public?
Projected guerrilla style? Submitted and shown formally?
(Should we even be thinking about that?)

Also, please note Sunday is the first day of daylight savings time - so 12:30 will feel a little earlier.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


Meaning Cleaning performance at MISC opening - New York Studio Gallery, New York City
December 11, 2008
Documentation courtesy of NYSG

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sunday, January 18, 2009


Sunday, December 21, 2008

More images from 10/11/08 MC

From my father - in - law

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

VOS- Peggy Jo Pabustan, Amanda Alfieri, and Alexia Lewis. Yes, We Can Do It? Cock & Bull Video Still 6:00. 2008.

MISC Video & Performance

December 4 - 20, 2008
Reception and Performances: December 10, 7-10pm

NY Studio Gallery is pleased to present the 3rd Annual MISC Video and Performance. A multi-media experience occurring every December at NY Studio Gallery. MISC features a variety of emerging, mid-career and established artists working in diverse genres ranging from video, animation, live performance, audio or video installation. Video loops and installation will be accessible during gallery hours, while performances are scheduled reception night.

Featured Artists: Damali Abrams, Fanny Allié, Arielle Falk, Aaron Bowles, Barbara Bulletti, Kate Burnet & Dan Woerner, Bradley Dever Treadaway, Ira Eduardovna, Kristen Galvin, Basem Hassan, Lynn Herring, Hwy Rachel, Chika Iijima, Marni Kotak, Talice Lee, Roy Menahem Markovich, Meaning Cleaning: Hayley Severns & Angela Rose Voulgarelis Illgen, Emmy Mikelson, Nishri Miri, Jon Monaghan, Hye Yeon Nam, Doris Neidl, Yoonhye Park, Rebecca Potts, Elizabeth Riley, Elise Roedenbeck, Rajkumar Shinge, Joshua Solondz, Natalia Szostak, Ari Tabei, Naho Taruishi, VOS: Peggy Jo Pabustan, Amanda Alfieri & Alexia Lewis, Christy Walsh, JiHyun Yoon.
Reception sponsored in part by Original Sin Cider

NY Studio Gallery 154 Stanton St. @ Suffolk St. New York, NY 10002
212.627.3276 / /
Thursday – Saturday, 12 – 6 pm or by appointment

NY Studio Gallery combines exhibition and workspace to create an atmosphere of interaction, collaboration and integration of media, styles and artistic genres for US and international artists.

Monday, December 1, 2008

I love this review from The Brooklyn Rail

by Hrag Vartanian
Art in Odd Places October 2008

The ghosts of 14th Street must have been happy in October, when Art in Odd Places (AiOP) chose the thoroughfare as the site for its month-long exhibition/intervention/performance/festival—the choice seemed as much symbolic as aesthetic.

"Personal Space" by Illegal Art (Photo Hrag Vartanian)
14th Street has historically delineated midtown from downtown, highbrow from lowbrow, rich from poor; today, those binaries are less evident as the conventional axis of New York has morphed into a checkerboard, with cultural and economic communities mixing with greater ease.

Spanning the breadth of one of Manhattan’s primary east-west thoroughfares, the fourth annual event of AiOP, Pedestrian, stretched from the Hudson almost to the East River, where it was denied a waterfront view by the power plant parked at the edge of Avenue C. Fifteen visual and 21 performance artists took part. Yet unlike other arts festivals, which count on venues to create cohesion, AiOP did almost everything to frustrate the notion of unity, preferring each artist to stand alone.
Tackling the Formless

Refusing to be an art tourist who, map in hand, pinpoints the next destination before proceeding, I came up with my own system to experience the boulevard-based festival. I picked one weekend (October 11-12) and walked down the north side of the street on Saturday and the south side the following day, crossing over if I spotted something that piqued my interest.

On Saturday I traveled west to east on the sunny side of the street and didn’t see anything for blocks that remotely resembled art. One pile of garbage looked like a mock-tribute to Joy Garnett’s web-based “Unmonumental” photo series but probably wasn’t, and there was a man lying in the sun on a sofa on the curb. This seemed out of place but I deduced it wasn’t art.

Trying to discern the consciously artful from urban noise became an exercise in frustration. I came across a Duane Reade cordoned off by police tape, an officer by the front door—it appeared to have been robbed. I even spotted three thirtysomethings staring at three broken frames on the sidewalk but I quickly checked my festival map (I cheated, I know), which told me that it wasn’t the art I was looking for.

I was disappointed by my bad luck and I even wondered if I were simply blind to the obvious. Finally, I looked across the street on the block between Seventh and Sixth Avenues and spotted a couple of people snapping pictures of two women cleaning the tiled pavement in front of a vacant storefront. I watched for a few minutes as the women, dressed in black and wearing industrial-strength breathing masks, swept and washed the sidewalk. There was nothing notable about their presence, nothing out of place except their clothing, which lent their actions a theatrical air...nothing, really, worth stopping for. I can only assume that the piece, “Meaning Cleaning,” by Hayley Severns and Angela Rose Voulgarelis Illgen, was a metaphor for the cleanup of the once grungy street. The piece was monotonous and few passersby even noticed; those who did were more intrigued by the three of us standing there with our cameras recording the event than they were by the performing pair.

Further down the street I spotted a pole painted gold in front of Virgin Records on Union Square but was again unsure if it was art or not—turns out it was: one of Kenny Komer & Boris Rasin’s “Midas” artworks. Well into the East Village I ran into one of the artists, Aakash Nihalani, who had just finished one of his characteristic street art pieces comprised of simple box forms of brightly-colored tape. His series for Pedestrian is titled “Landscrapers.” They are bold and crisp while not wholly out of place. A mash-up of construction signage and safety markings, Nihalani’s works are cool and poised.

Deep into the almost pastoral stretch of 14th Street that borders Alphabet City I came across Illegal Art’s “Personal Space” installations. Emergency tape, the same shade of yellow as the police tape I encountered at the freshly-robbed Duane Reade, was printed with the words “personal space.” Wrapped around odd spaces, and even on some displaced shopping carts, they were clever and served to highlight the liquid boundaries of private and public space on the street.

I also spotted Michael Knierim’s “Itinerant Artifacts” across the street, again thanks to a photographer who was busy documenting a man tweezering debris from tree wells. The performer was so well camouflaged into the streetscape that I would never have known he wasn’t a city worker.

This stroll across 14th Street made me acutely aware of how dramatically the boulevard shifts from the industrial chic of the Meatpacking District through the hodgepodge of discount stores hugging Sixth Avenue and chaos of tourists and shoppers at Union Square until terminating in the serenity of Alphabet City.
The next day I reversed my itinerary and began at Avenue C, walking in the shade. Convinced I was overlooking the obvious. I broke down and walked around with my nose in the festival map. I tracked down more of Kenny Komer & Boris Rasin’s gold-painted “Midas” objects: a payphone, a pole, and a “Siamese Connection” sign, among others.

Another work used gold as a medium, “14th Street Gold” by Renny Molenaar, but the target of the artist’s spray can was found garbage. I ran into him painting the contents of a trashcan near the Meatpacking District. The metaphorical use of gold seemed heavy-handed, and by now the difficulty of spotting art on the street started to feel as if I were trapped in a grown–up version of “Where’s Waldo.”

The most successful of the works featured in Pedestrian was Alicia Grullón’s “Revealing New York City: The Disappearance of Others.” Quietly parked beside a blank brick wall between First Avenue and Avenue A, Grullón sat in front of a small white table holding a small basin in which newspaper clippings about the housing changes in the city floated in papier-mâché paste. In front of the basin there was a small sign that read “Gentrification-Free Zone.” A collapsible shopping cart and another small white table, held bags of staples like rice, beans, and wheat tagged with exorbitant prices ($3000, $1000, $5000). From a distance, Grullón looked like any other Latin American merchant selling street food. Only her textured blue and gray papier-mâché mask, covered with cut-up headlines, and her Beefeater-like motionlessness triggered my “art” barometer. While I admit I’m growing increasingly weary of the gentrification binary that artists habitually draw attention to, Grullón’s silent protest drove home its pain, anguish, and poverty in a way that none of the other works approached. It exuded a sense of dignity that didn’t preach loudly (okay, not too loudly), and if the text tended to dumb-down the piece, her performance elevated it.

At the end of my trek I found Michael Knierim’s “Itinerant Artifacts,” small display cases attached to a tree between Ninth and Tenth Avenues containing a condom wrapper, a cigarette paper package, bottle caps and some other refuse. It was a little disappointing.

Art in Impossibly Odd Places

Then there were the works I couldn’t find even with the map, no matter how hard I tried. The missing works were: Terry S. Hardy’s “Glitz,” which promised to use one thousand mirror tiles at 14th Street & Ninth Avenue as a “homage to an area of 14th Street known for its speakeasies, dance clubs, and a seedier side of life”; L. Mylott Manning’s “Road Kill Stuffed Animals” which was supposed to be “mutilated stuffed animals soaked in dirty water”; Margot Spindelman’s “The Street Sees You,” comprised of “postcards from participating businesses along 14th Street: one side of the card has a picture of an unusual object to find on 14th Street”; and Elena Stojanova’s “Frame the Pedestrian,” which utilized “paper picture frames placed around everyday objects [to] construct an atmosphere and establish a context for understanding and interpreting the artistic nature of an object.”
A little perplexed and miffed by what I saw at Pedestrian, I contacted AiOP founder and one of this year’s curators, Ed Woodham, to make sense out of what I saw. I asked him how he would prefer people to experience the festival. He replied, “The unexpected encounter is my favorite. It’s an ongoing experiment in communication. I like it best these days when it just happens by accident. When a pedestrian is on full throttle daily automatic course from point A to point B, something is not quite the same and the course is thwarted by a visual. Then the ordinary corner becomes fresh at least for a moment.”

Unlike earlier AiOP festivals, which followed all the rules, Woodham said the organizers this year asked artists not to seek permits for their works: “One of the major missions of AiOP is to find different options for what is considered public space and the presentation of art in public spaces—looking for the loopholes in policies. Challenge the boundaries.”

If I was frustrated by Pedestrian, Woodham seems to say, then that’s the point.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Wall Street... a destination, a symbol, a threat, an abyss; a headquarters of capitalism, dreams, and deceptions...

Lots to think about for sure. However, am very excited to go and clean a portion. Can see us with this image as our backdrop for a next cleaning. Including the statue and buildings... this area has also been a site for protests in the past when ever there's been crisises sourced from there.

To think on some of the proposed questions...

Do we change with our context?
I think that we are affected by our environs indefinitely. However, I do feel that our concept is strong enough to carry us through. It's our intention that will come clearly though our actions as we select and move through different spaces.

Does documentation matter?
I'd say yes! Because we may track our ephemeral movements and bring into a collage format our actions, compile them, and have the past move us forward as the project evolves. I can see us making composites of our many different cleanings with similar actions but in different environs over time. I also like making concepts in video format that go with the performances (such as the split screen and building projection ideas in conjuction with live actions as well.)

Who are we doing the work for?
I think that it will be good for us to meet at the next destination soon and talk through a good amount of these issues (especially a topic as this!) However, I think that we do the work not only for ourselves, but also for making contributions and facilitating real forums for discussion about necessarry topics. As far as comprimising "self"... this is another interesting question that I'm looking forward to addressing with you and our participants. The "Self" is very interesting in thinking within Meaning Cleaning... looking forward to it! (Want to draft a "statement" of sorts soon? I think it could be a good time to do this...)

As far as if "NO ONE SHOWS"... what if???? I'm not worried. We got it girl! We're taking the responsibility for making sure the project is functioning and that the ideas go forward! If the vision is shared and fits into schedules for those who care to join... GREAT! If not, there will be more growth and opportunities in the future and our vision will not be compromised even if it's just the two of us sweeping/cleaning in an environ. I love having the focused force of numerous participants, however, I feel that this is best if our peoples are engaged and able to perform with clarity, unity, and individual discipline. Again, I think of the word REPETITION and our bits of discussion involving it. The power of the legs and brooms of just the two of us will be just as great as any number. I love our flexibility for many different situations as they may occurr! Feeling that this weekend will be great for a next sweep and I would like to explore Wall Street.... What are your thoughts? Let's keep talking!


(PS: also please leave comments if you are interested in participating or have participated with Meaning Cleaning... we do apprecieate your thoughts and imput and this is a place for us to meet and discuss too!)


Friday, October 31, 2008

Meaning Cleaning October 11 performance stills

Some more pictures recently received from the October 18 performance:

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Another realization

I also realized today
that our work is our work
not to get swept up (no pun intended) by the activity or publicity, but to focus on what our intention is, and why it is that we do what we do.

It's helpful to hear from colleagues and collaborators to be vigilant, to constantly re-evaluate the ramifications of one's actions, and to remember one's motivation and responsibility. What is one doing anyway?

I don't want to get caught in the "cool" scene
I have to think about this, and consider why we chose Wall Street as our next location to clean.
Do we change with our context?
Or is our concept of cleaning in public spaces strong enough to have the same quality wherever we are?
It's interesting to notice when I felt thrown off.
Why does it matter if our work is being documented?
Why does it matter if participants were late?
Who are we doing this work for?
Are we getting carried away by the brief flash of recognition for "good work"?
Why does it matter to me what people think about my work?
Am I compromising myself?
Are we moving too quickly with this?
Are we considering things too much or not enough?
What if no one shows up to participate on the 8th? And does that matter?

Cart before the horse

Hello again,
After re-reading the call for participation on November 8, some concerns arose:
Please note that Meaning Cleaning's performances are to clean public spaces.

The method of documentation on the 8th happens to be video, but the purpose of the cleaning is to sweep the streets, not to shoot a video.
The choice of sweeping on Wall Street carries with it bold associations with finance and politics, which are in flux and which will be impacted by the upcoming election.
Who knows what the tone of the city will be the weekend after Election Day?
Who knows if sweeping on Wall Street itself will be appropriate?

Our intention is to clean public spaces; let me clarify that to re-direct the emphasis on what it is we are actually doing.
The call for participation still stands, but I hope this email provides a better understand about our intention and purpose of our work.

Please contact me or Hayley with any questions or concerns.
Looking forward to the next Meaning Cleaning!
Angela Rose

Meaning Cleaning: Wall Street Video Shoot November 8, 2008

Meaning Cleaning is pleased to share their success from the Art In Odd Places performances on 14th street. All three collaborative efforts were very well received; a big thank you to all who participated! We are now in the process of editing all our documentation from October’s events, which will be on our website shortly.

This is our second call for participation to sweep Wall Street November 8! Meaning Cleaning is looking for volunteers who want to participate in a video shoot of a collaborative cleaning performance.
• We plan to sweep a portion of Wall Street on November 8, the weekend after Election Day. Meaning Cleaning participants would be dressed professionally and would sweep in a line formation working next to one another on one block of Wall Street. Exact location and time to be determined soon…
• Supplied with simple push brooms and rubber kitchen gloves, our aim would be to document a large group of people sweeping in formation. We plan to document the activity from waist – height down, focusing on the action of the work rather than on the identities of the sweepers.
• Duration to last one hour.

To sign up: please email either artist via email below for more information:
Hayley Severns:
Angela Rose Voulgarelis Illgen:

Please forward this to others who would want to participate in our November performance and help spread the word!
Thank you in advance,

Meaning Cleaning/ Hayley and Angela Rose

Meaning Cleaning is the artistic collaboration organized between Hayley Severns and Angela Rose Voulgarelis Illgen. The two independent artists began working together in 2005 and have since collectively cleaned public spaces in Europe and in the US.
Collaborating and performing together is a way for both artists to document the process of activating public spaces, taking responsibility for shared environments, cleansing spaces of past experiences, and bringing notions of domestic work into the public sphere.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Friday, October 17, 2008

Promoting Growth... looking forward

Columbia Spectator article

What a pleasant surprise to find this article about AIOP online today.
I remember the reporter - so sweet:
Columbia Spectator

Walking in an Urban Wonderland

Noah Buckley / Columbia Daily Spectator
As I meandered up and down 14th Street last Saturday afternoon, I wondered if I was in the right place. I was there to see the fourth annual Art in Odd Places festival and its presentation of “Pedestrian”—a public display of 31 artists’ eccentric projects that will continue throughout October.

But there were no booths and no exhibits scattered along the road. There was nothing. At least, nothing at first.
Then, an unexpected aureate glint suddenly caught my eye. As I stepped closer, I realized that it was a fire hydrant, painted bright gold. And then, a few blocks down, I spotted a golden door right next to its normally maroon counterpart. There was also a bicycle leaning against something that looked like a golden table, and a strange miniature-tower-shaped golden structure that I could not even name.

These objects constitute Kenny Komer and Boris Rasin’s Midas. As its name suggests, the artists basically just coated everyday, usually unnoticed items along the street with a glittering metallic sheen.
That was when I finally realized that the art “displays” were not supposed to be protrusive. The entire point of “Pedestrian” is to highlight various aspects of the cityscape, aspects that pedestrians would normally overlook or not consider visually appealing. “I thought it was nice how they made it really subtle and incorporated it into the everyday scenery of the city,” Vivian Feig, SEAS ’12, said. “It made me not just pay attention to the art, but notice all the actual details of my surroundings.”

Some displays, though, were a bit anticlimactic. A flyer described a project entitled Stoop Sale, by Ethan Crenson, as a presentation of “functional objects, displaced objects, objects refusing definition, glaringly physical objects, neutral objects, indifferent objects, validated objects, and private objects.” But it turned out to be a small collection of regular household items—including a portable toilet, a stool, a snow shovel, a Mona Lisa mouse pad, a wheel, a tissue, a row of coat hooks, a framed picture of a snowy landscape, and a strange wooden contraption—positioned on a square blanket that was no bigger than six square feet. It was definitely interesting, but not incredibly attention-grabbing (which, I suppose, was part of the point).
What did catch my eye, though, was L. Mylott Manning’s Road Kill Stuffed Animals. Yes, that’s right. Road kill stuffed animals. Or, to be more precise, stuffed animals that had been horribly massacred, drenched in dirty water, drizzled with “blood,” and tossed along the edge of the road closest to the pavement. I almost shed a tear or two for those poor fuzzy souls, especially the decapitated dog.

Unfortunately, those were the only visual projects that I managed to discover. As vigorously as I strained my eyes, I simply could not find the others I had been hoping to see, including projects like Eric Doeringer’s Free Books—boxes of novels that had been deprived of their last few pages—and Aakash Nihalani’s Landscrapers—bright tape delineating rectangular shapes on buildings. Either I was not looking hard enough, or they had indeed melted into the landscape.

But there were also artistic performances, two of which I did witness. The first, Cultural Crossing Guard, was enacted by Sara Holwerda and Nick Tobier. Clad in bright orange uniforms, they were standing at the corner of 14th Street and Eighth Avenue, arbitrarily arresting people at the edge of the sidewalk and adjusting their clothes or posture. “We’re trying to make sure people look their best as they cross the street,” Holwerda explained. “We’re making New Yorkers more aware of their appearance.”

On my way back to the subway station, I also happened to pass by two ladies—Angela Rose Voulgarelis Illgen and Hayley Severns—dressed in formal black clothes, scrubbing the brick walls of a derelict building that was originally a Macy’s department store. According to Illgen, the purpose of their performance, Meaning Cleaning, was to take “responsibility for a shared environment by bringing more domestic work out of the private sector into the public.”
Before hitting the festival, it is helpful to pick up a map of display locations at Otto’s Shrunken Head, Rags-a-GoGo, Rolco Labs, 14th Street Framing Gallery, or PrintByPOP. And though it was not what I expected, “Art in Odd Places: Pedestrian” was definitely an eye-opening experience.

“Art in Odd Places” will continue throughout the month of October.
Upcoming Performance Projects
* Log Roll 2008—Saturday, Oct. 25 and Sunday, Oct. 26 (9 a.m.-9 p.m.). Beginning at 14th Street and Avenue D. A large sequined log is rolled down 14th Street.
* Chairwalk—Saturday, Oct. 25 (3-5 p.m.). Beginning at 14th Street and Avenue D. Matthew Blair walks down 14th Street with a chair tied to his left foot.
* Alegrias-Performance 02 & 03—Saturday, Oct. 18 and Saturday, Oct. 25 (12-2 p.m.). 14th Street between First and Eighth avenues. Arielle Falk removes many layers of ski masks that cover her face.
* Tales of the Clogged and Perpendicular—Saturday, Oct. 18 and Saturday, Oct. 25 (12 p.m.). North side of 14th Street and Avenue C. South side of 14th Street at Ninth Avenue and Hudson (1 p.m.). Performers, clothed as an 18th-century Dutch peasant and a 19th-century Victorian dandy, perform a symbolic ritual as they walk down 14th Street.
* The Pedestrian Project—Saturday, Oct. 25 (2-6 p.m.). 14th Street between First and Ninth avenues. Performers wear black costumes that look like road sign graphics.
* Christmas Is Coming—Saturday, Oct. 25 (10 a.m.-3 p.m.). 14th Street beginning at Avenue D. Ken James drags a log across 14th Street, leaving a line behind him because of erosion.
* Artarchy—Friday-Sunday, Oct. 17-19 and Friday-Sunday, Oct. 24-26 (6-8 p.m.). 412 E. 14th St. A stop motion film projected onto a wall mimics the markings of spray paint.
* Dance With Death—Saturday, Oct. 18 and Saturday Oct. 25 (2-4 p.m.). 14th Street between Union Square and Second Avenue. Yoonhye Park, wearing a white Korean funeral dress, strolls down 14th Street with a skeleton.
* White Trash—Saturday, Oct. 18 and Saturday, Oct. 25 (2-5 p.m.). All of 14th Street beginning at Avenue D. Edith Raw makes random movements and gestures on the sidewalk in a costume made from garbage.
* Camouflage Promenade—Sunday, Oct. 19 and Sunday, Oct. 26 (1-2 p.m.). All of 14th Street beginning at Avenue D. Two performers, wearing 1868-era full-skirted day dresses, wander down 14th Street.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Part One, per ARVI -11 October 2008

Meaning Cleaning, October 11, 2008
Notes from Angela Rose

Hayley and I met on Friday to discuss our project, recap the previous sweeping performance, and to discuss our intentions and interest in the vestibule cleaning. We met over tea and coffee cake; in my opinion, this casual encounter is what was crucial to the success of the cleaning - being in the same space together, breaking bread as it were, and grounding ourselves in our work. I think we should continue this with future cleaning projects.

The next morning, we met to pick up supplies to bring on site.
We arrived on site at 11:30AM.

Immediately I felt connected to what we were doing, and was focused.
Then out of nowhere Rita arrived and threaded our eyebrows!

Once we started, we addressed the aroma emanating from the corners of the vestibule.
We were able to apprehend water from the Starbucks next door - all the hot water we wanted, all day long.
Armed with respirators, we doused the floor with Simple Green solution, then got to work on the roll down doors (cleaning and polishing)

More to come as photos from Ian and Carla arrive through the ether...

This just in

The Meaning Cleaning yesterday was a huge success.
Before my morning coffee, though, I found this email, below, in my inbox. Hooray!

Dear Angela and Hayley,

It is with great pleasure that I inform you that your work has been selected for inclusion in NY Studio Gallery's 3rd Annual MISC Video & Performance exhibition.

We would like to have you do a performance of Meaning Cleaning on Wednesday December 10. If you are interested and available please contact me and let me know.

Best wishes,
Zeina Assaft

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Our challenge

Vestibule of original Macy's building, at 56 West 14th street.
12-2 pm today.

Monday, October 6, 2008

From the Director

Dear Artists,

If you were there you know, if you were not-we missed you. The opening reception of Pedestrian was an enormous success. Otto's Shrunken Head was packed and there were lots of great exchanges between artists, family, friends, and pedestrians. Thanks to the artists who shared their work at the event.

Art in Odd Places 2008 is off to an amazing start. I heard some captivating stories from artists and performers about their experiences during opening weekend. Remember that Art in Odd Places is an on-going experiment about art and communication in public space. Your observations about what works and what doesn't work concerning placement, performance, public reactions, and other issues are essential. Please post your images, video links, and stories on Art Log to share as soon as possible.

Thanks so much to all of you for your participation in this year's Art in Odd Places event, Pedestrian. It was a pleasure to meet many of you at the opening. If we haven't met, I look forward to meeting in the near future. Be sure to distribute maps and invites around the city. More maps are available at 14th Street Framing Gallery @ 225 W 14th Street and Rags A Go Go @ 218 W 14th Street both between 7th and 8th Avenues. And once again remember to post on Art Log.

I will keep you updated throughout October.

All the best,

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Meaning Cleaning performance stills
October 4, 2008 - 14th street, Manhattan
New York City

Thanks Adie!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Cleaning October 4, 2008

Email to Hayley

Sent today, October 4, 2008 9:58 pm

Ciao Hayley,
I thought today's cleaning went really well!
Would love to talk to you about it tomorrow at brunch, or at least some time soon - maybe at the opening reception tomorrow afternoon.

After leaving Union Square, some things came to mind:

As my group started to form, I felt I was at a loss about clarifying the intention of our cleaning pieces.
I would like to have been more direct with what I hoped the tone of the cleaning would be.

For our next sweeping performance, I would like to write to participants ahead of time to communicate more clearly what our intention is and to loosely suggest the roles of the participants.
For example, is Meaning Cleaning a silent meditation for the duration of one city block, or interactive over many blocks with pedestrian traffic?
Is the focus on the present moment, and if so, how can we communicate that better?

I'd like to discuss that with you and hear what your thoughts are and what the atmosphere was like in your group today.

I suggest a shorter time period for the next group cleaning.
My group lost steam after 1.5 hours.

I suggest we limit the span of our cleaning performances to one or two city blocks, and give that distance our complete attention.
It could add to our intention, and could act as a physical parameter of the performance...
Quality, not quantity.
What are your thoughts on this?

Group size
I would like to work as a larger group, not two groups moving towards each other.
I missed you today, and feel we are a stronger team when we work side by side...
Also, without hundreds of people sweeping with us, I think one larger group of 10 people is more of a powerful statement than two smaller ones in the context of 14th street...

What to say to pedestrians
I'd like to write to participants to give them a general list of what is it we think Meaning Cleaning stands for/represents, and what they can say to passersby to support our intention of the piece itself...

Overheard today along 14th street

"What did you do wrong that you have this penance?"
"What is this, sweeping school?!"
"Thank you so much!"
"Is this community service?"
"Are you guys in jail?"

Thursday, October 2, 2008

2 groups
10 or 11 brooms
10 or 11 pairs of yellow kitchen gloves

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

This weekend's event

I'm excited for this weekend's cleaning!
It should go smoothly, and the weather looks like it's going to be beautiful.
Right now I'm thinking less of the number of participants we have and more about our intention as an action, a force.
It quiets me down to think about the potential we can have as two groups moving towards each other with intention and purpose.
I think it's going to be successful.
Sending us all my best thoughts,

Monday, September 15, 2008

On any single day

pay attention
put away
problem solve

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Meaning Cleaning Pioneer

From and article written by Helen Molesworth: "House Work and Art Work", 2000 on Ukeles'; "Transfer: The Maintainance of the Art Object." (In this example the artist cleaned protective display cases as an artwork.)

"Normally this vitrine was cleaned by the janitor; however, once Ukeles' cleaning of the case was designated as "art" the responsibility of the cleaning and maintenance of this case became the job of the conservator."

I love the transference of responsibility and meaning that occurs from Ukeles' simple everyday domestic acts such as cleaning. Her intention coupled through her performances were able to switch and bring together that which was once seperated by an unsaid class structure. (i.e. the terms "Janitor and Conservator".) It's so cool she was able to break it down...

Presently, am looking at the possibilities of what we call into further question of what is "domestic" and why do we seperate our behavioral structures from how we are in the home and or "home land" and how we are when we percieve ourselves as "outside" of it. What is threatening about it. It's always funny to me the reactions we get when people become hostile to what we are doing. It's simple really, we are just taking responsibility for where we live. Yet, sometimes people are afraid that we could be doing something "other." It will be so interesting to interact with everyone we'll be meeting during these next coming performances... All of them will provide us with special information and exchanges to hopefully furhter inspire and open corridoors in our collective spaces within our "home" NYC.



From Annette Messager's: "The Approaches"

"At 4 pm on the street, I am always suprised by the indifference of the people crossing each other's paths. Nobody talks to anyone they don't know, to whom they haven't been introduced; only a catastrophe or some incident on the street can momentarily shatter this isolation."

Getting very excited for our "approaches" upon the blocks of East meets West 14th street and coming together in Union Square!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Art in Odd Places

Even though the link and 2008 exhibition schedule isn't out yet, I couldn't help but link to the AIOP website.
Art in Odd Places 2008 Pedestrian

Friday, August 29, 2008

meeting minutes

Re-con on 14th street yesterday proved VERY useful.
Paperwork and logistics aside, I think it's going to be a very powerful cleaning in October.
We found the perfect intimate spot to clean
Narrowed the breadth of streets down to four to sweep.
Gathering volunteers
Reaching out for donations and sponsors
Documentation addressed

It's interesting how I become so intensely angry when we get into cleaning; just the thought of where we will work on the 11th makes me so mad! I'll use to our benefit.

I'm really looking forward to this,

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

further the discussion

Getting closer to October's performance.
I also think it's important to clean next month, on September 11.
The where is less important than the how.

In terms of practical logistics, I decided to publish the email I sent you last night, below:

There are a few I found, but all hover around the same price. I like the layout of this site, below:

I also want to discuss and resolve the following:
Should we design the buttons this week, order supplies, and then cut and assemble next week?
what kind of brooms are we going to get
how much $$ they are
how much $$ gloves, other supplies will cost (approx): dustpans, etc.
who is going to donate tons of money to us?
when are we going to write to Mierle Ukeles about participating?
who is documenting and how?
Are we going to mic ourselves/the brooms: how, when, and how much $$?
Flyers/postcards/business cards: graphic designer friend anyone?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Paperwork in.
Ideas flowing.
Recon soon..
let's think about and act upon possibilities this weekend for the Autumn.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

More volunteers

I heard from friends and friends of friends this week, most of whom are signing up to be volunteers for October!
Very excited; great way to start the morning.

Hayley when we meet next, let's go over what we discussed earlier:
-walk through schedule time

Monday, August 4, 2008


Already momentum is growing for our October performance...heard back from 7 people yesterday, all of whom want to participate with us for AIOP!
Friends in other places are sending their support, and say they will send our call for participation out to friends and artists in the NYC area.
Let's see what today and this week brings..

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Ukeles documentation images

From C

Subject: Meaning cleaning

Hi there Angela!

I'm sorry I won't be able to make it for your performance.

I'm pretty sure I mentioned this last fall, but do you know about Merle Laderman Ukeles' work? You should really check her out...really interesting work. She does cleaning as well, but she mostly cleans museums. HM and MK have both written about her work, both as public art, feminist gestures, and institutional critique. She also became "Artist in Residence" at the New York department of sanitation! She had a performance where she shook the hands of every garbage collector in the city....

Anyway, I'm glad to see you're doing well and performing!

Call for Participation follow up

I just sent the Call for Participation to almost everyone on my email contact list...

Already waiting with bated breath!

I'm excited about our potential, and want to coordinate another cleaning before October to document, share, spread the word, etc.

Meaning Cleaning Call for Participation

Meaning Cleaning Call for Participation

Meaning Cleaning is pleased to announce that their proposal for a collective public cleaning performance has been accepted for this year's cycle of Art In Odd Places, taking place in New York City in October 2008!

Meaning Cleaning is the artistic collaboration organized between Hayley Severns and Angela Rose Voulgarelis Illgen. The two independent artists began working together in 2005 and have since collectively cleaned public spaces in Europe and in the US.
Collaborating and performing together is a way for both artists to document the process of activating public spaces, taking responsibility for shared environments, cleansing spaces of past experiences, and bringing notions of "women's work" into the public sphere.

This is a call for participation

Meaning Cleaning is looking for volunteers who want to participate in their October 2008 Art In Odd Places performance! We hope to have a very substantial amount of participants and need motivated volunteers. We are now asking YOU, man orwoman, to join us!

Meaning Cleaning participants would be dressed professionally and would begin sweeping the sidewalks from both East and West ends of 14th street in Manhattan to meet in the middle at Union Square. Supplied with simple push brooms and rubber kitchen gloves, our aim would be to push the debris from the street in one continuous pile until it reaches the desired meeting location, and then cart the debris away collectively.

As we activate the space, we welcome interaction with the public. We'll also play with some of the expected roles and unsaid rules that come along with the sectioning off of "high brow" and "low brow" partitioning of public spaces. The performance can exist on one day, or may be repeated over the course of the month on weekends. We will send out more specific dates and times to those who are interested once scheduling is confirmed.

To sign up If you are going to be in New York in October 2008 and would like to participate in the upcoming performance(s), please contact either artist via email below for more details:

Hayley Severns:

Angela Rose Voulgarelis Illgen:

Please forward this to others who would want to participate in our October performance and help spread the word!

Thank you in advance,

Meaning Cleaning/ Hayley and Angela Rose

Monday, July 21, 2008

AIOP follow up

I spoke to the curator of AIOP today, who recommended we "think BIG" for our October performance.

Thinking about sweeping ALL of 14th street, en mass, with up to hundreds of helpers.
He seemed very open and communicated clearly he loved our proposal.
Seemed like a great way to start the day, with that phone call.

So now I'm thinking BIG:
what could that mean?
What is our possibility?
I envision hundreds of helpers all sweeping with us, clad with yellow and orange gloves and push brooms, from 1st to 10th avenues.
Where can this energy go from here?
Where else can we dream?
Where else can this energy go?

I can see it.
I know it can happen.

Now that I'm writing it, it is one step closer to filling out its form.

Meeting together on Thursday at my new "studio" will be helpful.
I really like the idea of formulating with more dedication (admittedly, on my part) our next possibility.
See you then, and for many more cleanings coming up before the weather turns again.
Time and day for next Meaning Cleaning?
I get back on Wednesday PM,

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Kent Ave. (unknown artist)

Gearing up for a welcome back home to the East coast swelter... more works to be done!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Another query

Months ago, upon hearing I was collaboratively cleaning the subway stations of New York as an act of social responsibility and a continuation of feminist art practice, my father asked "What does being a janitor have to do with art?".

This weekend, upon hearing our proposal got accepted by AIOP for October, another family member had a similar query.

I'm glad to have been chosen in this year's AIOP Pedestrian cycle, and at the same time I'm glad to have the questions arise about what my work is "about", and how cleaning public spaces can help broaden views of art and help illustrate other aspects of art history.

I can't wait to get back to New York from the west coast for another collaborative cleaning. I return next week.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Art In Odd Places update

Received via email on Saturday July 12, 2008
From George Spencer, Curator, Art In Odd Places:

"I am pleased to inform you that your project has been selected for inclusion in the Art In Odd Places 2008 show, Pedestrian. Our event in October promises to be exciting with a wide variety of projects and sites on 14th Street in NYC. In the next few weeks I will be contacting you for more information about your project.

I am honored to work with all of the Art In Odd Places project artists and look forward to meeting you soon. Please contact me with any questions or concerns. Congratulations again and I look forward to hearing from you as your project develops."

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

another list

out out damn spot!
washing the blood off of one's hands
(washing away the guilt)
sanitizing the past
bleached out
"powder fresh"
"let's keep it clean"

Sunday, June 15, 2008

I think another Meaning Cleaning is DEFINITELY in order.
Midtown could be great.
Now that the weather is nice, we can start anywhere and clean anything really.

I like the idea of a walking cleaning, or having a starting point and deciding en route where to stop and what to clean.
I remember at the Domestic Departures workshop, we both thought a lot about that enclave before we actually cleaned it together...maybe we can do a similar thing next weekend?

I also like the idea of cleaning vestibules, or the spaces in between outer and inner.
Thinking about your experience in the yard, the past's carelessness of space "because it's a rental", etc.
I like the idea of scrubbing a space until it's spotless, in line with what we accomplished in Santa Ana.

LES vestibules are usually on the ground floor.
East Village as well, but tend to be locked.

Let's discuss and DO next weekend.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Maintenance and Growth

This year I moved into the bottom floor of the brownstone I've been renting and living in. Spending the last two years wondering why no one was taking care of the very fertile land in the backyard, I would fantasize about all that I could plant down there. This year is the year! However, digging up the yard I found all kinds of trash, just under the surface as this yard had not been cared for in years (I guess because it's a rental property.) I quickly realised that I had a lot of cleaning to do before it would ever yield.

Yes, I think I see what you mean about the daily cleaning of self, home, garden or green space, beach, street, and building as somehow like maintaining our composure in a world where consumption and speed are taking precedence. Maintainence is necessary and perhaps therefore, taken forgranted... "who has time for that now?" I suppose it's some psychological thing we do, compartMENTALizing public and private in order to cope with an urban environment. Being creatures of habit, we live almost like we're in seperate worlds even though it's all layers of the same. I wonder how this happens? A bit psychotic, don't you think? Or perhaps it's a lack of a feeling of ownership? Hmmm... then this get's tricky because our thinking spreads into everything; even how we see ourselves, and lack of ownership of self along with lack of connection with environment is enslavement.

Shall we do a street sweep soon? Maybe up in the midtown area?