The Table

Public care.

Municipal housekeeping.

Visionary maintenance.


Heidi Axelsen and Hugo Moline.

The Table is a space where productive, reproductive labours come to meet. A surface that can hold both private and public moments. This space is for feasting, planning, playing, talking, sitting, thinking.

This Table is a place where reproductive labour (cleaning, cooking, caring, maintenance) is valued equally to productive labour (planning, creating, instigating, playing). There is no delineation between skilled or unskilled labour, there is just labour and each is recognised as a contribution. This Table creates new kind of place,  a state of exception within a context where normally reproductive labour is invisible and undervalued.

The Table is a simple thing, so ordinary, yet so versatile. Like the reproductive labour it supports it is so useful, so fundamental that we barely notice it anymore.

Most places labelled public (public toilets, public shelter, public housing) are built to be hard. They are made to eliminate the need for maintenance. From the fear that no-one will care for them they are made in such a way as to need as little as possible.

In opposition to the poverty of public hardness, we propose a luxurious vulnerability, one which both requires and facilitates regular pleasurable maintenance. Rich, soft timber which needs to be regularly oiled. Natural linoleum which needs to be polished and cleaned. Canvas shades which can be washed and re-hung. Soft brooms will be provided to sweep the forecourt. Well paid cleaners and care-takers will lead workshops on hedonistic maintenance.

In 2018 we were artist in residence at Nida Art Colony in Lithuania with our 3 year old daughter living and breathing the balancing act of reproductive vs productive labour.

During the residency we were shortlisted to develop a concept for the Powerhouse/ MAAS architecture pavilion. 

Thanks to the material feminists, the grand domestic revolution and the likes of Meirle Laderman Ukeles and Marta Rosler we expanded beyond the microcosm of our table to a 30m to infinitely long ♾️ table for acts and discussions of hedonistic repair and maintenance.  

Thanks to Nida Art Colony for supporting our work and providing a family friendly residency space. The Australia Council/Creative Australia for the funding and Powerhouse/MAAS for the commission.

#maintenance #reproductivelabour #productivelabour #repair #art #architecture

MAPA Art + Architecture
Heidi Axelsen + Hugo Moline.   ︎    ︎   

An art and architecture collaborative working between the social and the spatial.