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How to Clean Backgrounds

This series takes its title from the language of online tutorials that teach the foundations of Photoshop, in which viewers learn how to use tools such as the clone stamp, the magic wand, the patch, and the corrective pencil. In the works on view, Lombardía uses these tools to “clean” photographic documentation of well-known performances from the 1970s, removing any trace or indication of the performer’s presence in the photograph. In this act of cleaning, she draws from the work of Mierle Laderman Ukeles, an artist well-known for her feminist and service-oriented conceptual works that relate the idea of process to domestic and civic “maintenance.”


As Lombardía observes, “the ‘cleaning’ of the images, which takes hours or even days depending on the photograph, is truly immersive and has had a profound effect on my work. In some ways I felt very much like Ukeles, since it was after all a ‘cleaning’ job. At the same time, it was conflicting, especially when I worked with archives of artists who I admire greatly but whose impact and dissemination on a historical level has been less than that of some others, especially those relating to women and Latin or African American artists. Manifesting their absence has a meaning and implications that go beyond space.” 

DJ Hellerman

Curator, SCAD Musuem of Art

How To Clean Backgrounds

Digital Pigment Print



Solo Show

SCAD Musuem of Art

Savannah, GA, USA, 2021


Alarcon Criado Gallery

Madrid Spain, 2021

Photo Credits: SCAD Museum of Art


Ira Lombardía Studio
150 Westminster Ave
Syracuse, NY, 13210, USA
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