This program is being offered both in person at ICP, located on NYC's Lower East Side, and online. Tickets to attend the conversation in person are $5 and do not include access to ICP’s galleries. Online tickets to watch the livestream are available for free.

Jade Doskow, Photographer-in-Residence of Freshkills Park, NYC, is joined in conversation by choreographer Kathy Westwater, former Freshkills Park Artist-in-Residence (2010, 2011, 2022), NYC Department of Sanitation Archivist and records manager, Maggie Lee, and Dennis Diggins, former NYC Department of Sanitation First Deputy Commissioner, for a conversation centered on how artists engage and document undervalued and reclaimed city land. Special remarks will be played from Mierle Laderman Ukeles

This program is part of a three-part series with Sanitation Foundation that includes a Big Spring Clean Lower East Side neighborhood cleanup and photo activity, a conversation centered on artists using city land, and a celebration during April's Free Third Thursday Late Night ICP

About the Speakers

New York-based artist Jade Doskow is known for her rigorously composed and eerily poetic images that examine the intersection of people, architecture, nature, and time. Doskow is best-known for her photographic work Freshkills, Lost Utopias and Red Hook. She is the subject of the 2021 documentary Jade Doskow: Photographer of Lost Utopias; the film has screened internationally at film festivals and at cultural institutions such as the Asheville Art Museum and the International Center of Photography. Doskow’s photographs have been featured in Harvard’s Social Impact Review (upcoming in 2024), The New York Times, Virginia Quarterly Review, Urban Omnibus/ Architectural League of New York, Aperture, Photograph, Architect, Wired, Musée Mag, Smithsonian, Slate, and Newsweek Japan. Doskow is on the faculty of the School of Visual Arts and the International Center of Photography. Recent and current exhibitions include at the Museum of Modern Art, Asheville Art Museum, Alice Austen House, Tracey Morgan Gallery, and Cornell University. Doskow is the Photographer-in-Residence of Freshkills Park, New York City and is a contributing environmental photojournalist to the New York Times.

Maggie Lee is the archivist and records manager for the NYC Department of Sanitation, where she stewards DSNY’s historical and cultural heritage and partners with artists, educators, and museums to create new projects that celebrate DSNY’s contributions to the life of NYC. She has worked closely with longtime artist-in-residence Mierle Laderman Ukeles and managed the 2022 public-artist-in-residence program with sTo Len, in partnership with the Department of Cultural Affairs.

Kathy Westwater has created experimental dance in NYC since 1996. In 2022 she premiered her first gallery exhibition, PARK Ephemera, emerging from an over fifteen-year inquiry of Fresh Kills Landfill, once the largest landfill in the world, at the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art. Her most recent performance work Revolver + Choreomaniacs, described by the New York Times as “revelatory,” premiered at Chocolate Factory Theater. Westwater is a recipient of the Solange MacArthur Award for New Choreography, the first woman to receive the prize. She lives in the Bronx with her husband and frequent artistic collaborator Seung Jae Lee.

Dennis Diggins worked for the NYC Sanitation Department from 1982-2017 and became the First Deputy Commissioner in October 2014 where he directed all daily operational aspects of the Department: the Bureau of Cleaning and Collection (BCC), the Enforcement Division, the Division of Safety and Training (DST), the Personnel Management Division (PMD), and the Field Inspection and Audit Team (FIAT).

Diggins led major initiatives including the expansion of curbside collection of Organics which is a critical component of the Mayor's commitment to zero waste to landfills by 2030 and increasing the efficiency of the Department's snow fighting strategy. Diggins also managed operations of Fresh Kills Landfill including assisting in the closure of Fresh Kills in March 2001 and was involved in the response and recovery to the World Trade Center Attack.

Mierle Laderman Ukeles (b. 1939) is an interdisciplinary artist. Her artwork, blurring/crashing boundaries between labor and performance, system and spirit, unveils connections between feminism, work and workers, the city, and the environment. Ever since she wrote her MANIFESTO FOR MAINTENANCE ART 1969! Proposal for an Exhibition “CARE”, her practice has revolved around the idea of “maintenance art” and the “maintenance artist.”

Since 1977, she has been the official, unsalaried artist-in-residence of the City of New York Department of Sanitation. In her work, she focuses on whole systems and interacts with entire groups of workers including the citywide performance, TOUCH SANITATION, with all 8,500 NYC sanitation workers and co-creating seven work ballets with workers in the U.S. and internationally. Besides performance, her work includes both permanent and temporary installations, video and sound works, as well as sculpture. Much of her work deals with building peace and repairing the world.

Her obsession with the possibility of transforming degraded land leads directly to Fresh Kills. Underneath, what was the largest municipal landfill in the world, lies 150 million tons of waste. The four mounds that resulted are truly what Ukeles has called, “a social sculpture. We made this place….Freshkills Park is huge—it’s almost 3 Central Parks big. It’s so big, sometimes it’s almost disorienting.” LANDING, in contrast, offers intimate human-scale, contemplative experiences. It calls out for respect for the individual viewer, reverence for living nature, integrated with our determination to heal our environmental degradation.

Image by Jade Doskow