Lisa Vinebaum: New Demands?
Custom digital prints
Dimensions variable, 35×76 inches – 46×90 inches
New Demands? by Lisa Vinebaum, takes the form of 12 text-based digital prints installed in the windows of For The Thundercloud Generation. The texts inscribed in the works are derived from slogans and demands of the Ladies’ International Garment Workers’ Union (ILGWU). The slogans span a roughly 80-year period, from 1895 through 1982. They were used by the ILGWU as part of local and national campaigns for the right to freedom of association, collective bargaining, a regulated work day and work week, vacation and overtime pay, improved workplace health and safety, and health care and retirement benefits for workers in the garment industry. Historically the ILGWU was the largest union representing workers in the American women’s apparel industry, uniting workers from across diverse cultures and economic status — at its peak in 1969 it had over 450,000 members. By the 1950s and largely as a result of its campaigns, over half of all American garment workers were unionized and earning good wages, with benefits. While much apparel manufacturing currently occurs outside the USA, clothing continues to be produced domestically, mainly in Los Angeles, where workers often face unsafe working conditions and toil for companies that do not respect state and federal wage and labor regulations. As a result, many of the historical slogans and demands for better working conditions made by the ILGWU remain highly relevant today across the garment, manufacturing, food production, auto, coal, and many other industries.
This installation is part of the larger project titled New Demands?, an ongoing series of exhibitions and performances connecting the current crisis in timed labor to historical struggles for workers’ rights. New Demands? incorporates public performances and sited interventions, print works, neon, and textiles.
Research for this project was conducted on site at the ILGWU archives at the ILR School at Cornell University.