The Silent Agitator - On The High Line
Photograph - Photographs
Ruth Ewan researches communities, organizations, and individuals from the history of activism and alternative educational models. She then presents this research in a variety of interactive and experiential formats.
For the High Line, Ewan presents a monumental-scale clock on the park at 24th Street, also visible from street level. The clock is based on an illustration originally produced for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) labor union by the North American writer and labor activist Ralph Chaplin that reads “What time is it? Time to organize!” The illustration was one of many images that appeared on “stickerettes,” known as “silent agitators,” millions of which were printed in red and black on gummed paper and distributed by union members traveling from job to job. The stickers were advertised through publications such as Solidarity and the union’s newspaper Industrial Worker, and through events such as national “Stickerette Day” on April 29, 1917 and May Day of the same year. The clock nods to the round-the-clock organizing work of the IWW, and the ubiquity of the clock in labor struggles: both the ways that factory owners separated private and public time and the fights for the now-diminishing labor rights we have today, such as the five-day work week and eight-hour workday. Ewan intends for her clock to provide a gathering space on the High Line, evoking the private vs. public separation of space and time we experience in capitalism, and a possible future where people gather together for their reclamation.
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August 23rd, 2019
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