Monthly Archives: February 2014

2014 Whitney Biennial Installation

Whitney installation

Whitney installation 2

It’s installation day at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City. The 2014 Whitney Biennial opens next week. David and I are excited to have our work included in this major exhibition.

Thanks to Public Collectors’ Marc Fischer for sending photos and stories from inside the Whitney!

Public Collectors’ participation in the Whitney Biennial focuses on the life and work of Malachi Ritscher, who recorded several thousand concerts from the 1980s until 2006.

It’s a total thrill to see the Mecca Normal 7″ and the photo Malachi took of us at the Empty Bottle after he recorded our set in Chicago in 2002. Our set — and a small portion of the music he recorded over the years that he was meticulously documenting the live music scene in Chicago — is available via an iPod mounted on the museum wall. A short piece I wrote about Malachi is included in the official biennial catalog and in the booklet that Public Collectors has published.

David Lester’s poster “Malachi” will be framed and hanging on the wall. The poster features a drawing Malachi Ritscher at an anti-war rally, holding a sign that says “Unjustified War is Mass Murder.”

Malachi’s final act of protest was self-immolation. He intended for a video document of his death, his protest, to be widely distributed by the mainstream media to impact the American people. This did not happen. In part, I wrote the song “Malachi” to further Malachi’s intention, to use art and music to carry his message forward. The song was also a reaction to Malachi’s death, a death devised to be much more powerful to many more people. At some point, I suggested that David include Malachi in his ongoing Inspired Agitators poster series to exhibit and discuss in our touring classroom event called “How Art and Music Can Change the World” within which Mecca Normal performs “Malachi” after talking about his death, the video and how artists may choose to represent profound social, political and personal content in their work.

“If I am required to pay for your barbaric war, I choose not to live in your world. I refuse to finance the mass murder of innocent civilians, who did nothing to threaten our country. I will not participate in your charade — my conscience will not allow me to be a part of your crusade.” – Malachi Ritscher, 2006

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The Battle of Ballantyne Pier by David Lester

The Battle of Ballantyne Pier by David Lester

Written and illustrated by Mecca Normal’s David Lester, the comic examines the history of longshore work and the violent events that unfolded in 1935 on the waterfront of Vancouver, British Columbia.

Exhibited in a show and published online by Graphic History Collective.

bbp1

Jean Smith & David Lester
David Lester