Knights of Labor Headquarters General Staff
image copyright, Catholic University of America

Extralegal installation of a monument 814 North Broad St, Philadelphia, once the site of the national headquarters of the Knights of Labor-- a seminal American labor union accompanied a triangular shaped gallery in the Institute of Contemporary Art of the University of Pennsylvania featuring two dueling historical archives-- one of material culture related to the Knight's membership and cause, and the other of the monopoly press counterattack that sought to discredit the organization.

The intervention seeks to recover this vital piece of American Labor history through the emplacement of a ponderous boulder monument with accompanying plaque- meant to look completely normative and official.

The project's title: "Passing the Veil: of tXX XXXXXXX XX XXXXX" is a reference both to the Knights of Labor (KOL) early quasi-Masonic initiation ceremony, where the outer veil was the larger world, and the inner veil the space of solidarity, and Passing the Veil, an entering into the organization; and also the process of passive forgetting and active erasing that characterizes American labor history, so instead of "Passing the Veil: of the Knights of Labor," the title is blacked out or lost, thus: "Passing the Veil: of tXX XXXXXXX XX XXXXX."

The intention at the ICA is to create an installation that expands the gesture of the monument and reframes the KOL's potential relevance to the present, displaying the two dueling archives: scathing anti-labor lithographs versus labor tracts, dance invitations and keepsake photos as two possible historical readings, and opening the door to a further question: how could such history have become lost, and what limits or kindles in the viewer a sense of identification-- the possibility of "joining," that activates any popular movement. In the KOL's egalitarian fraternalism, is there a model for the Occupy age?