Laurie McKenna’s The Undesirables at Cornelius Projects

  • 07/31/2018
  • Reporters Desk

The Undesirables: A Multimedia Presentation and Event with video, spoken word and live music 7 to 9 p.m. Aug. 4

The Undesirables: A Mixed Media Installation by Laurie McKenna August 2 through 12

Cornelius Projects presents The Undesirables, a mixed media installation and event created by Laurie McKenna. Both the installation and event are driven by extensive research of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW, also known as the Wobblies), labor, race and class issues.

The installation specifically examines the 1917 mass incarceration and deportation of 1,196 striking miners in Bisbee, Arizona.

On July 12th, 1917, the Phelps Dodge mining company along with some smaller industrial firms with the help of County Sheriff Harry C. Wheeler formed a 2,000 manned posse and rounded up 1,300 striking miners and their supporters. From there, the striking miners were marched to a baseball park, loaded into cattle cars, and banished to the desert in New Mexico. The strike was called by the IWW and the workers were erroneously accused of being subversives, unpatriotic, and a threat to public safety.

Using historic documentation, McKenna developed a series of works on paper, souvenirs, video vignettes, and curated a series of informative pamphlets. The central work in the installation is comprised of 1,200 individual rubbings of a 1917 penny that commemorates each of the men, by name, who were unlawfully taken and banished from their homes in Bisbee. McKenna considers the process of making the rubbings as an endurance piece, and the rubbings themselves the resulting monument, “A labor of love for the love of labor.”

McKenna first presented The Undesirables on the 100th anniversary of the event in 2017 in Bisbee, Arizona. It was always her ambition to bring the show to San Pedro, considering the kinship of industry, with its history of labor struggles, and similar acts committed against union organizing in the first quarter of the 20th century. During McKenna’s show at Cornelius Projects she plans on visiting the San Pedro Bay Historical Society and hopes to meet with local immigration and labor activists to learn more about the area’s history.

During The Undesirables, Cornelius Projects will be open Thursday through Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.. A red flag flies outside the door when the venue is open. The exhibition will be on view from August 2 to 12.

About the artist: Laurie McKenna is a cross disciplinary artist (2-dimensional, spoken word, installation, filmmaking) whose work examines socio-economic, political and cultural issues.  Often referencing American history, she combines and distills personal experience and bereft and dispossessed cultural narratives.

Time: 7 to 9 p.m. Aug. 4
Cost: Free
Details: Appointments, (310) 266-9216
Venue: Cornelius Projects: 1417 South Pacific Avenue, San Pedro

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