MCA_pix_3200
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, 2011.
35mm film transferred
to DVD and four-channel sound installation.
8 minutes.

We Shall Be All

There are three parts to this exhibition in Chicago; a new film called We Shall Be All and The Internationale (1999) in the atrium space of the MCA Chicago. I also installed Pledge (2002) in Jane Addams Hull House Museum. The first part of the work We Shall Be All is a single voice rendition of me singing the Scottish ballad Annie Laurie. It was reported that one of the Haymarket martyrs A.R. Parsons sung this song to a rapt prison audience the night before he was executed. The second part is a short extract from a poem, which originated in the Paris Commune of 1871 but was often repeated in speeches by Voltairine de Cleyre in memory of the Haymarket martyrs. The passage will be projected as an illuminated text. The work then samples the beginning of Godspeed You! Black Emporer’s East Hastings as it features on their debut album F# A# ∞, rhythmic bagpipe playing over layered with the sounds of a street preacher and traffic noise. I’ve rearranged these samples in a round moving the sound through the four speakers in the space. The final piece is four separate recordings of me signing Leonard Cohen’s song Who By Fire in unison. The entire work is transposed on to black 35mm film to recall old newsreel footage, particularly the existing footage of the Memorial Day Massacre of 1937.

Before morning he [Parsons] broke the stillness of his surroundings by singing a favourite song of his earlier days- “Annie Laurie.” The clear tones echoing down the corridor startled all then awake, and prisoners and death -watch eagerly inclined their heads to catch every word and note. When Parsons drew near the closing stanza, his voice tripped and hesitated, unmistakably showing that his feelings were giving way to the recollections of former times.

Michael J. Schaack, Anarchy and Anarchists. A History of the Red Terror, and the Social Revolution in America and Europe. Communism, Socialism, and Nihilism in Doctrine and Deed. The Chicago Haymarket Conspiracy, and the Detection and Trial of the Conspirators. (Chicago, 1889) (F.J. Schulte and Co.) Chapter XXXVI, p.642.