N.B.: This is a post by guest blogger William Linsman, his first post ever. Story and photos copyright William Linsman, 2013.
Yesterday, May 1st, was International Workers Day
Remember when the Soviets used to parade their tanks and missiles through Red Square?
Near my office is L.A.’s Craft and Folk Art Museum (CAFAM) and outside, on the sidewalk, was Frau Fiber, a performance artist with a strong green message.
People are urged to bring to Frau Fiber a worn or torn garment. She sits at a contraption of her design (the third generation of this device), which looks like what it is: A bicycle hooked up to a sewing machine. She asks you to sit on the bike; she analyzes the repair she will make, and then asks you to peddle. The bike is connected mechanically to the machine (no electricity involved). When you peddle, the machine runs. She repairs your garment. What a trip!
Frau Fiber has been doing this for years, and is serious about it. But she clearly has fun with all her co-participants. She’s wears an outfit she made that reminds me of those Soviet days, but she has a smile underneath her stern persona. She told me that, during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, she drove with her machine from Chicago to New Orleans. Her intention was to repair the same number of garments as the 146 people killed in the New York Shirtwaist factory fire http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triangle_Shirtwaist_Factory_fire
This brings to mind the recent tragedies in Bangladesh (fires and collapses now totaling over 1000 deaths) and the importance of working conditions and the creation of organized labor; see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Ladies’_Garment_Workers’_Union
The slogan for the ILGU was “Look for the Union Label”; it meant a lot to workers for many years. (Now, unfortunately, we look for a label in Chinese that means, “Wash with garments of similar color”).
And check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haymarket_affair ; it’s worth your time. The event gave us the 8-hour workday; without it, you’d probably be working about twice that.
The energetic frau’s co-participant provides the energy to make something (the garment) last longer in the world. Brava, Frau Fiber!