Made in Collaboration with Sara Smith and R. Armstrong
On August 15, 1889, Emma Goldman began her life anew. A working-class Russian Jewish immigrant, Goldman became deeply inspired as a teenager by the anarchist movement. At twenty, she came to New York City with the express intention of becoming a leader in the movement. Goldman planned to work as a self-employed dressmaker to support herself while working as an anarchist and labor activist. When she arrived at the ferry terminal on W. 42nd Street however, she was compelled to leave her sewing machine behind at the station, since it was too heavy to carry on the long walk to the Lower East Side.
One hundred and twenty years, three weeks, and two days later, we carried the sewing machine for Emma, in an “anti-versary” commemoration. In Emma's Walk, part ritual procession and part mobile memorial, a group of collaborators and participants honored Goldman's legacy by re-creating her historic walk, from the Ferry Terminal on West 39th Street, to the Lower East Side. Participants were invited to join the walk for any part, and the project led to many conversations with passersby on the streets about Emma Goldman’s work and legacy, labor history and present concerns, and women's rights.
Custom T-shirts for participants in Emma’s Walk were hand-made by collaborator R. Armstrong. In Armstrong’s "Garment Worker" project, she makes all of her own clothing, attempting to create handmade clothes that "pass" as industrially produced. The image on the front of the shirt is drawn from the Singer Sewing Machine Corporation’s Russian 1880s logo, and “Emma Goldman walked here, August 15, 1889” is printed on the back.
Listen to radio coverage of Emma's Walk from WFMU's Acousmatic Theater Hour by Emma's Walk participant Karinne Keithley Syers: www.wfmu.org/playlists/shows/32847
All images and text copyright 2006-2021 Gina Siepel. All rights reserved.