sonja stummerer & martin hablesreiter

slogging away clean

Clean-up in around thirty homes and exhibition in the Ebensee Museum

Already before the festival, three smartly dressed persons will be going from house the house in Ebensee asking for permission to thoroughly clean a room. Whether it be the kitchen, living-room or toilet, wherever they are let in, they will clean until the room is sparkling clean. The two men clean, the woman organizes, checks, documents and chats with the housewife or houseman about useful tips. Cleaners found in the household will be used. The cleaning is free; only a cleaning utensil will be requested, for instance, in the form of an old rag, a half a bottle of cleaner, a bag for a vacuum cleaner. These materials will be labelled according to the place they were found, the purpose, the home’s address and the time, and brought to the Ebensee Museum where they will be catalogued, sorted and exhibited throughout the festival as home finds.

Cleaning is an everyday cultural technique; cleanliness is regarded as an ideal. But cleaning itself is regarded as inferior work which in most homes is still done by women. This is one aspect for the clean-up action. Another aspect relates to the methods and means of cleaning. The market offers an endless variety of products whose selection and use provides information about the pretensions to cleanliness and environmental awareness in the households. Chemical bombs or biodegradable? Disinfection or soap nuts? Citrus or Ajax? Wet rag or mini-vacuum-cleaner? The documents collected in the Ebensee Museum provide an overview of local sensitivity to cleanliness.