See You in the Streets
Art, Action + Remembering the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire
What makes it possible for people to move from the inner realm of thought, dream or feeling to the exterior world of public action?
Ruth Sergel’s work explodes out the boundaries of traditional mediums to create experiences of agency. Through films made with communities, public interventions and new media, the work teases out the delicate mix of vulnerability and unexpected strength, as we cycle from a frozen state, vibrating between personal and political distress, to moments when we cast off the world as it is presented to us to surge forth. Trusting in our own instincts and possibilities, we boldly assert our presence, our voice, our will.
See You in the Streets offers an exuberant perspective on an art practice that bridges art and technology, memory and wonder to create compassionate works as an incitement to individual and social transformation.
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“Ninety years before 9/11, the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire also destroyed a building in lower Manhattan, also led people to leap to their deaths rather than burn alive, but the culprit in the earlier case wasn’t terrorists, unless you bestow that name on ruthless employers. Ruth Sergel’s moving, riveting, and important book reminds us that ‘in 2011, the year of the Triangle Fire Centennial, 17 people in the United States were killed by terrorism, while 4,609 died in workplace accidents.’”
—Rebecca Solnit, author, The Faraway Nearby
“Ruth Sergel has been ahead of the curve for years and this book proves it. We should listen very carefully to what she wants to do next!”
—Frida Kahlo, founding member, Guerrilla Girls
“In this passionate book, Sergel, a remarkable activist and artist, writes eloquently about one of history’s worst workplace tragedies—the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire of 1911. Sergel also explains how art can be used ingeniously to keep memories of that tragedy alive so that we in the twenty-first century never forget the hugely important lessons to be drawn from it.”
—Steven Greenhouse, author, The Big Squeeze: Tough Times for the American Worker
“The 2011 centennial commemoration of the Triangle Shirtwaist fire led by Ruth Sergel was among the most successful unions of art and social justice I have yet to witness in my thirty-year career. Beautifully written, See You in the Streets offers new generations of social and cultural activist insight into this magnificent model program and ways to utilize the ‘unexpected beauty’ in the world toward social justice.”
—Steve Zeitlin, Founding Director, City Lore
Table of Contents
Voices of 9.11
Start Your Engines
Acts of Return
The Centennial (Utopia)
See You in the Streets
The book includes essays by:
Suzanne Pred Bass, Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani, Cheryl Beredo, May Y. Chen, Esther Cohen, Richard A. Greenwald, Sherry Kane, Annie Lanzillotto, LuLu LoLo, Annelise Orleck, Kaushik Panchal, Emma Rosenthal, Elissa Sampson, Andi Sosin + Joel Sosinsky, Ellen Wiley Todd, Mary Anne Trasciatti and Sheryl Woodruff. The introduction is by Anne Valk.
Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani, Roy Campolongo, Nathan Farb, Diane Fortuna, Alfonso Guerriero + the Young Historians of PS 126, Heidi Gutman, Marjorie Ingall, Scott Jackson + his class at the Brooklyn International High School, Phyllis Kestenbaum, Serphin + Vincent Maltese, Gary Meister, RJ Mikelson (for Workers United), Shelley Jacobs Mintz, Ileana Montalvo and Vivian Sorenson.
See You in the Streets is a part of the Humanities and Public Life series at the University of Iowa Press edited by Anne Valk and Teresa Mangum. Catherine Cocks: acquisitions editor, Susan Hill Newton: managing editor, Karen Copp: production manager, Rebecca Marsh: copy editor, Laurie Pendergast: index editor, Allison Means: Publicity, James McCoy: director.
Heartfelt thanks to all who made this book possible.
– I knew as soon as I listed any names in the acknowledgements – I would forget someone very important! Tim Mangin – you are part of my chosen family. Many apologies – I owe you a beer (at least!).
– Maria Giuseppa Lauletta was mistakenly listed as Maria Giuseppa Lauletti. Thank you to her great granddaughter, Mary Ann Hacker, for the correction.
More to come…