The Radium Girls is a space-based installation consisting of an audio tour of exit signs that use regulation and information about exit signage to tell the story of the Radium Girls.
The Radium Girls are exploited female factory workers in cities throughout the U.S. in the 19-teens who were exposed to radium—using it to paint watch dials—in a time when the element’s toxicity was unknown. Even when it was proven dangerous, workers were encouraged to continue working without protection, using their tongues to keep brush bristles organized. This resulted in an occupational hazard known as “Radium Jaw,” in which the women’s jaws would fall out of their heads. They fought (and lost) a long judicial battle over reparations for being poisoned with radium.
This feminist audio tour is a political, poetic installation that makes use of a required piece of architecture in a gallery space that often goes unnoticed (paying tribute to the unnoticed factory workers): the exit sign.
Credits – The Radium Girls: A Radically Advancing Tour of Exits Signs, A multi-modal art project, written and directed by Letícia Ferreira De Souza & xtine burrough; Sound Recording and Engineering by Frank Dufour
Additional Credits – LabSynthE and The Emerging Gizmology Lab