15000 Years of Housekeeping

Acknowledging the extraordinary in the ordinary • 2017

15000 Years of Housekeeping suggests the extraordinary in the ordinary, daily activities of housekeeping such as folding, stacking, packing, listing, measuring, sorting, cleaning, mending, shelving, and planning that we carry out by ourselves and with others.

For 12 hours on 30 September – 1 October 2017, approximately 300 visitors to John's 12th independent Nuit Blanche Toronto installation explored 12 housekeeping activities.

12 years, 12 hours, 12 tasks

  1.  Setting the Water Table · Sit down, set the table for guests then join the party. Place settings for six under four inches of water. Float your plates and cups. Serve yourself and others. Knives on the right. What about dessert forks? Tea or coffee? Pass the salt and pepper, please...
  2. Great Chore Wheel of the Universe · Post chores liked or disliked on the revolving Giant Chore Wheel. Poignant and sweet, analytic and wise, grandiose and joyful, some of the chores posted included washing the peanut butter jar before recycling and calculating the question to the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything.
  3. Dish Dry Rack Stack · Build up and out to dry by interlocking plates, cups, pots, pans, cutlery, utensils, baking dishes and other kitchen ware.
  4. Good Neighbours' Clothes Line · Hang the clothes of a lifetime or sort by size, type, colour. Hang up your basket of clothes while your neighbour is taking down theirs. Enjoy the 50-foot long, double-ended, high-tech Amish clothes line.
  5. Four Tiny Houses on Wheels · Four tiny houses for kids furnished with kitchen tools, pots and pans along with carpet, upholstry and flooring samples. Make a pretend dinner. Hang up clothes on a kid-sized drying rack.
  6. Mmmyouseethem of Shopping · View a collection of shopping lists. Consider the array of empty food packaging. Admire the Shopping Cart on a plinth.
  7. Nuts, Buttons Bolts Sorting · Sort nuts, buttons and bolts into muffin pans by size and colour.
  8. Housekeeping Sounds · A one-hour playlist of recorded housekeeping sounds: vacuuming, dish washing, clothes washing machine, hand and electric lawn mowers, garbage, revolving vintage loudspeaker once mounted on the roof of the church building.
  9. Coffee Cup Toss · Into which bin do coffee cups go? Blue bin, Green bin, or Garbage bin. Can you get them in any bin?
  10. Mending Table · Mend a moth-eaten red sweater, worn-out wool mittens, supplies and tools provided.
  11. Ginger Snap Cookie Cooking · Smell the cookies baking then help yourself as they come out of the oven.
  12. Housekeeping Books · Sit down with your cookies and look through a varied selection of books about housekeeping.

Slideshow · photos from the installation
Comments · a selection from the 103 comments left by Nuit Blanch visitors

Blue sadness is...when on a bus, one suddenly pictures with absolute clarity a ball of dust in a closet... · Mary Ruefle

With thanks to the event volunteers and project contributors who made this installation possible: Marcelle St-Amant, Emilie Shipman-Wight, Clara Shipman, Liz Shipman, Victoria Shipman, Joy Shipman, Veronica Clarke-Hanik, Tony Hanik, Dana Astrug, Mason Hicks, Sheila Moll, Wil Moll, Rosary Kwak, Lauren Hodgson, Pat Steinbergen, Pat Fuller, City of Toronto Cultural Events and St. Matthew's United Church.

15000 Years of Housekeeping was presented by the Department of Household Sciences & Advanced Proverbs on 30 September–1 October 2017 at St. Matthew's United Church, 729 St. Clair Avenue West, Toronto. For more information about John's independent projects for Nuit Blanche Toronto, please contact John.

The Giant Chore Wheel, Four Tiny Houses on Wheels, Setting the Water Table and Mmmyouseethem of Shopping · Marcelle St-Amant, photos