2012, 91:00 minutes, colour, English
Cleaning house is one of the most private things we do in our homes, other than sex and arguments. We often feel shameful about clutter and dirt, so there is something particularly intimate about the act of cleaning it up. Although the product of a clean home is socially valued, the work required to achieve it is not. House cleaning exists on the shadow side of the economy, on the margins or outside of paid employment. It is an additional, uncounted form of labor that enables our roles as paid workers and consumers. This film invites viewers to meditate on the ongoing maintenance work that makes other, more highly valued, work possible.
Maintenance contains fifteen portraits of people cleaning house. In most cases, they are cleaning their own homes. The film’s subjects represent a wide cross-section of the population of Los Angeles. In one or more fixed, long-duration shots, the film observes each person engaged in cleaning. We hear the ambient scrubbing, sweeping, and sloshing of their labor, and sometimes other sounds: their conversations with family members or friends who are working alongside them, or the music they listen to as they work. At the end of each person’s portrait, the ambient sound continues, and the image is replaced on screen by text in which the person reflects on their practices regarding cleaning.
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