MARGT, 2022 (19th-Century Stories)
In collaboration with Jared Christopher (b. 1947).
Medium: Stereoscope viewer (recycled wood) and Stereo Video on iPad.
Duration of the stereo video: 2 mins.
Dimensions: Base: H58" x L20" x W18" inches - Stereo viewer: H11" x L17" x W14" inches.
The 1810 census lists "Margt" (Margaret) living in the rear apartment of House # 22 (now # 130 Elfreth's Alley) and working as a washer. She lived with two other free Black people, and apart from one other, they were the only Black residents of the Alley at that time. Because the records don't show her last name, it is essentially impossible to find traces of her beyond 1810. The subsequent census (1820) doesn't list her, but perhaps she was still renting out the back of House # 130, and she simply wasn't listed—we will probably never know.
This piece is a metaphor for contemplation. From 1932 to 1979, only seven photographs of the 161 from the archives in the city have a glimpse of House # 130 Elfreth's Alley. We don't have much information about Margt, but we can understand a little more about her life by contemplating the house in which she lived. Historical information can help us speculate about the hard life of Margt and the challenges that female Black domestic workers had to deal with.
For more information, listen to the Alley Cast.
Episode 4: The Racial Politics of Domestic Labor.