Ghosts of Philadelphia Industry


2014, HD video (silent) projection on building facade, Broad & Pine Streets, Philadelphia
Continuous loop

Ghosts of Philadelphia Industry was inspired by Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry murals and filtered through the artists’ engagement with the history of industry in and around Philadelphia, as well as the history of the moving-image. Filmmakers have trained their lenses on workers since what is popularly considered the first ever motion picture. As with Lumiere’s Workers Leaving the Factory (1895), Hironaka & Suib present workers from Philadelphia’s industrial past, along with labor protestors and other industrial motifs. The project was made with the participation of students from Sayre High School, who the artists worked with on preliminary collages and subsequently filmed and included in the final piece.

As with their 2011 projection-based installation Provisional Monument for the New Revolution, Hironaka & Suib explore the possibilities of using the moving-image to create a temporary monument, in this instance to Philadelphia’s industrial history. The 7-story tall projection on the south facade of University of the Art’s Anderson Building is comprised of dozens of collaged, animated film vignettes that move on and off-screen, and loop continuously with a machine-like rhythm. The images represent just some of the industries that based in the region, including shipbuilding, textile and clothing production, paper and paper products, steel and iron, industrial minting and others that made Philadelphia the Workshop of the World for much of the 20th Century.

This project was realized through the support of Mural Arts Program, with the assistance of University of the Arts and Temple University’s Urban Archives.


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