Wearing a Yiddish-language sign that read, “Stop the Attacks on Worker’s Rights” (“Halt Di Bafalen auf Vorkers Rechts”), I stood vigil outside factories and former sites of historical significance in local labor struggles and strikes. My vigil and sign were inspired by protests in the state of Wisconsin, against the repeal of collective bargaining rights. This photo was taken outside the building at 160 Saint Viateur East, one of the sites of the Dressmakers’ Strike of 1937 involving 5000 women workers. It was the first strike won by the ILGWU in Montreal. Today this factory building — like many others in the area— still houses some textile manufacturing, along with artist studios and galleries.
Lisa Vinebaum is an artist, theorist, writer, curator and educator. Her art practice is highly interdisciplinary and incorporates performance, public interventions, fibers, installation, video, photography, sited projects, and protest tactics to explore the construction and performance of identity and subjectivity, with a focus on contemporary Jewish identity formations. Inspired by the work of Emmanuel Levinas, Trinh T. Minh Ha, Judith Butler and Amelia Jones, her work considers subjectivity to be contingent on the Other, and examines in particular, various contested and shifting positions of otherness inside and outside of Jewish identity. Her practice also seeks to revive, reclaim and re-present marginalized, ignored, and underrepresented histories in art, culture and politics. Current projects include an ongoing series of site-specific performances dealing with histories of Jewish politics and labor in the garment industries; and research into contemporary fiber art projects that mobilize labor, performance and collectivity in the larger context of globalization and consumerism. Lisa Vinebaum’s creative work has been included in exhibitions and festivals internationally, including at Nuit Blanche in Montreal, the Centre Pompidou (Paris), the UCLA Hammer Museum (Los Angeles), Lincoln Center (New York City), Mobile Exposure (touring), and the European Media Art Festival (Osnabrück, Germany). Her scholarly work has been published in journals and books, including Art Textiles of the World: Canada (Telos Art Publishing, 2009). She has lectured and presented papers at conferences internationally, most recently at Dis/Locations: Being Out of Place (Centre for Interdisciplinary Study, Concordia University), the Festival of Other Theatre (University of Toronto), and Radical Intersections: Performance Across Disciplines (Northwestern University, Chicago) She was Visiting Lecturer in Textiles at Goldsmiths (2003 – 2006), and a part-time faculty member in the department of Studio Art (Fibres and MFA Studio Art) at Concordia University in Montreal (2009 – 2011). In August 2011, she will join the Department of Fiber and Material Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago as Assistant Professor.