Thursday, May 3, 2012

Berkman's Dagger Finished

Yesterday I received the replica dagger I carved, newly gilded with professional ease by Thad Kellstadt in Chicago! He really took the idea to another level for me, as I want to replicate the look of a "sacred" relic, in an effort to bring into question how we may canonize or demonize the persons and actions of radical thinkers from the American past. This dagger was Alexander Berkman's (original here), which he plunged several times into Henry Clay Frick's leg during an ultimately unsuccessful assassination attempt in 1892. Frick had been responsible for authorizing a paramilitary attack on the popular Homestead Steel Works strike in Homestead, PA - Berkman traveled to Pittsburgh, where Frick's office was located, to deliver an "attentat" that he hoped would spark an anti-capitalist revolution. He was 22 at the time, and ended up spending the next 14 years in prison, much of it in solitary confinement (it's worth reading up on his spectacular escape attempt).

These days, anarchists tend to love Berkman (he went on to be a prolific writer, orator, and activist), Homestead Strike enthusiasts typically vilify him, and outside of these circles he's largely ignored. His dagger, now housed in the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, was little more than a sharpened file...

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