The Armory Party: But Is It Trash?

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The Social Mirror in a 1983 photo.Photo: FeldmanGallery.com


The Armory Show opened last night with a private viewing at Pier 94 and a party — well, there was a bar and some undertipped bartenders — for the art world and its lackeys. It was a private benefit for MoMA and P.S. 1, and there were fashion editors with tans and strange hats, artists with all sorts of accents, and dapper Bill Cunningham snapping photos of gallery workers. People milled around the bar and through the vast expanse of art, and there was a lot of chitchat about performance artist Marina Abramovic's 60th-birthday party, coming up on Saturday night. (Apparently she's been sleeping on a whole bunch of peppers, which will no doubt be incorporated into a sauce or a centerpiece for the 350-plus guests.) But the highlight of the evening was a garbage truck — a 28-foot, 12-ton New York City sanitation truck, the front painted white, the mammoth sides covered with mirrors. "I want people to see themselves in the frame of this trash truck," said artist Mieles Laderman Ukeles. "It doesn't belong to the sanitation workers. We are all in this together." Ukeles calls her beast of a piece The Social Mirror, and she has a thing for trash: In 1978 she did a project called Touch Sanitation, in which she shook the hands of 8,500 sanitation workers. "It took eleven months," she told us. "I thought it would take three." —Emma Pearse