Enter- New York City, 1911 (late March (the 25th to be exact))
Asch Building, Greenwich Village -- 4pm
The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory is located on the 8th, 9th, and 10th floors of the Asch Building. The factory has about 500 employees, most of whom are young women and a majority of those workers are immigrants. A fire begins on the 8th floor from unknown causes though it is speculated that a cigarette butt caught scraps on fire. The building had many a scrap from the thousands of produced blouses per day.
It is almost time for the workers to leave when a large fire breaks out on the 8th floor and quickly spreads through the rest of the two floors above it. People run to get out of the building which is filled with employees who are making around $4.00 per/hour in modern currency for around 52 hours of work a week, including weekends. To the horror of many, the doors are locked, they cannot escape. The owners of the factory locked the doors as a precaution against unwarranted breaks and theft by their employees. This action would later lead to multiple charges of manslaughter for both owners when the case makes it to court.
Due to the lack of exits, only a few lucky people are able to use the elevator before the flames engulfed it, those who are beginning to be eaten by smoke and flames turn to the windows as a final escape. The fire escape itself had not even been functional and ended up killing around twenty people who were using it for its purpose of escaping when it twisted under the heat, they landed on the concrete below.
Sadly, those were not the only people to land on the sidewalk. As the fire raged on, an estimated sixty-two people either jumped or fell from windows, leaving the street and sidewalk surrounded the building littered in cold, lifeless bodies and splatters of deep red stains.
The final death count totalled at around 146 people, most of which were women, and even children as the youngest death was of a fourteen year old female worker.
Today, in America, we have child labor laws so I hope that something as terrible as the Triangle Shirt Factory fire would not kill innocent children. There are also laws protecting workers rights in general...laws that allow for breaks, meals, and put a cap on the amount of hours a person can work in a week along with minimum wages.
Thought these kinds of regulations are placed on workers in the United States, tragedies such as the Triangle Shirt Factory still occur, more often than one would like to imagine, in less advanced countries and cities all over the world. This needs to stop.
“Art changes people and people change the world” - John Butler
Art changed my world because it shaped me into who I am today. I was obsessed with art when I was little, I had about forty picture books about different artists and the pieces they made. My mom would read them to me and then we would go to the museum and see the artists work in real life. I fell in love with Van Gogh, I knew all of his pieces and even had large posters of them in my room. I must have been about 7 or 8 and all my other friends watched tv and knew characters names but I, I knew art.
I have no doubt in my mind that art can do incredible things. It can evoke hatred, spark romance, or unite people.
I think that art is very important especially now where they world seems to be on the brink of WWIII. Activist art by artists like Banksy make a point and get people thinking. A favorite Banksy piece of mine is the image below in which the letter “F” in life, from the statement “enjoy your life” has been crossed out so instead the street art reads “enjoy your lie.” I find this piece incredibly relevant to today as we are witnessing the rise of social media. It seems that people's lives are solely the lies that they post to keep up the facades of they life they portray. What we see is not always how they (the person who posted) see or feel. So much is fake, from conversations to smiles. As time passes people seem to loose their genuineness and I believe that this is a modern social issue. How can I be expected to get to know a person or fall in love with somebody when the only thing I get to be around is that individual with their mask on and walls up? It’s the only way to keep the lie alive which eventually morphs into life.
Really, if art draws attention and makes people think, that is the important part. Thinking and talking about subjects are how we propel them into a stronger light. In Hong Kong, the Umbrella Movement has been largely impacted by art. Photography has captured the realism and fleeting moments during the protests. I am biased towards photography because it is my strongest artistic suit so I found some of the photos to be phenomenal.
I really enjoyed Raymond Kam staged picture, “Umbrella Revolution (shown above).” He used actors to represent the major groups of people involved and their individual stances such as the “westerner” on the right hand side of the image who is casually watching it all happen but clearly it has little to no affect on his daily life. Kam was able to capture something that a photojournalist or other photography wouldn’t be able to capture because you don’t see the westerners or the natives in or around the protesters. In this manner, it could also been seen as a satirical piece that criticized those who aren’t involved or who are active bystanders.
Some people make art because they love to, others make art to change the world.
When I was thirteen years old I saw the movie Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Though it was not advertised as a horror movie, it should have been. The very realistic looking apes that allegedly take over the world was not the part that frightened me. The scariest part of the whole movie were the final credits which rolled over a background of the globe becoming infected with a deadly disease.
Here is a bit of backstory, in the movie there is a scientist who is working towards finding the cure for Alzheimer's but instead creates the insanely contagious and highly dangerous virus known as the Simian Flu.
An unknowingly infected pilot goes to the airport and as he walks away we see a drop of blood fall from his nose (nosebleeds are a symptom of the flu.) The pilot has already contaminated people in the airport and on his flight which is headed to Europe. This is the part where the credits are going and we start to see little dots fill up the globe. What began as a single dot in California was now a fast-paced wave of blue dots that were filling in the globe.
How realistic was that part of the movie? Honestly, possibly much more so than I wish. It is uncommon that with modern medicine and technology that we experience such outbreaks as the one alluded to in the movie however, it's not impossible. A few years ago there was the Swine Flu and more recently the Ebola epidemic.
In 2014 the world was on high alert as an outbreak of the Ebola Virus was breaking headlines. It began in West Africa where it quickly spread through villages of people who did not know what was wrong or that they were infected accidentally infected others. Many people were sick and dying and nobody knew how to stop it, actually almost nobody knew it was happening for a while.
Within three months of the first death from Ebola, over fifty others were dead. This is when the government stepped in and called for reinforcements from Doctors Without Borders. Sadly, Doctors Without Borders lacked enough resources to even dent the outbreak, the WHO (World Health Organization) was notified. They, however, decided to leave the responsibilities to the local Guinea government who had no experience with Ebola. This was the WHO first major misstep. Ebola began to spread across western Africa.
The second misstep was when WHO did not announce an international health emergency so as to avoid panic. When Ebola reached the United States, WHO declared an international emergency.
Another epidemic, SARS, was also not considered an international health emergency until reaching North America. Again, the WHO had taken too long to alert the general public. In their defense, Chinese leaders had originally fabricated the reported severity of the breakout.
At this point, it has been years since either of the diseases listed above have had any reported cases. In the long run, WHO did it’s job but could they have done it better? Yes, there may have been chances to save lives but it is sometimes hard to tell severity without seeing it in person. In the case of SARS, the WHO was able to run a dress rehearsal of their most intense, possibly detrimental plan. A plan that is saved for something like you see in the movies, a plan in case Rise of the Planet of the Apes becomes a reality.