Terrible Karma (Terrible Karma: reverberations of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire created and curated by Adeola Enigbokan and Merle Patchett) is a mobile audio-visual installation exploring the global reverberations of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, on its 100th anniversary: March 25th 2011.
Terrible Karma works from the premise that ‘sound is haunting … a presence whose location in space is ambiguous and whose existence in time is transitory’ (David Toop), meshing oral histories of Triangle fire survivors with audio recordings by Matthias Kispert of mega-scale garment factories in Qingyuan, China and protest songs of present-day garment workers in Bangladesh and Cambodia to invoke the contemporary and transnational resonances of the Triangle fire.
The title, Terrible Karma, refers to both the title of a protest song sung by Cambodian female garment workers at a union rally in Phnom Penh (July 2010) and to the idea that events of the garment industry past continue to haunt the present, that injustice is always coming back.
The work arises out of the artists’ – Adeola Enigbokan and Merle Patchett – mutual desire to mark the centenary of the Triangle factory fire whilst also exploring the constraints and conditions in which garment workers continue to work, live and die.
The work ‘takes to the streets’ on March 25th, 2011 when the sounds and photographs it presents will be projected out of a UHAUL truck driven through the streets of New York, stopping at various points to allow passers-by to experience the work from inside the truck’s claustrophobic confines.
The truck is being driven between the hours pf 10am – 2pm in downtown Manhattan, at Cooper Square, and near the location of the fire, at Washington Place and Greene Street (see Map above).
If you’re in town, drop by and spend some time in the back of the truck, feeling the reverberations of the fire, 100 years later.
For those not in NY the work is available to experience by watching the online version of the work here.
N.B. This work is self-motivated and self-funded. If you watch/listen to this work on line all we ask in return is that you leave a comment at the bottom of the linked webpage stating where in the world you experienced it so we can attempt to track how far it reverberates. Thanks! Also: Special thanks are due to UNITE Archives Cornell University, NYPL, Matthias Kispert, Jean Marshall, Gearóid Dolan and Will Zimmermann for helping us to make this happen.