Tag Archives: 2014 Whitney Biennial

Democracy Now! interview

Advertisements
Tagged , , ,

2014 Whitney Biennial opening

DSC00574 1000
David Lester’s “Malachi” poster at the 2104 Whitney Biennial (yellow/right). Listening stations on left include a live Mecca Normal set from 2002.

DSC00446 1000
In the vitrine, Mecca Normal’s 7″ record cover for the song “Malachi” (released by K Records, 2010).
#WhiBi Photos by Marc Fischer.

Tagged

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

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2014 Whitney Biennial

Press Release

poster

Click through to high resolution image.

FREE poster

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

David Lester poster in 2014 Whitney Biennial, March 7 to May 25, New York City

Malachi (18 x 28″ poster) by Mecca Normal guitarist David Lester is included in the 2014 Whitney Biennial. The exhibition also includes a recording from a live set performed by underground rock duo Mecca Normal,

Mecca Normal, and both sides of the cover of the Mecca Normal 7″ record that includes the song Malachi about war protester Malachi Ritscher.

 

cover

The painting on the record cover is called Discovering Utopia by Mecca Normal vocalist Jean Smith. Click through to high resolution image.

Mecca-Normal-Malachi-BACK-COVER

Back cover with “Malachi” lyrics by Jean Smith. Click through to high resolution image.

These four artifacts are part of Public Collectors: Malachi Ritscher – an exhibit curated by Chicago’s Marc Fischer about American activist and music documentarian Malachi Ritscher (1954 – 2006) who self-immolated on a freeway median outside of Chicago to protest the war in Iraq. Ritscher made a video of this action that was not widely seen.

“It was Malachi’s intention for the video of his protest, his death, to reach people through mainstream media, to jar them from complacency, to have them raise their voices to end the war. But that wasn’t what happened. The video was not released in that way. When we added our song – and the poster – to our performances and classroom events, we regarded them as extensions of Malachi’s intention. We had created documents about the documentarian whose final statement on war was not heard. We created art and music because Malachi’s voice was not heard.” – Jean Smith, from the 2014 Whitney Biennial catalog

2093_45152778946_5599_n

David Lester is a visual artist and the guitar player in the rock duo Mecca Normal from Vancouver, Canada.

Jean Smith of Mecca normal

Jean Smith is a writer, a painter, and the lyricist/vocalist in Mecca Normal.

Malachi – the title of David Lester’s poster – includes text about Ritscher’s beliefs and a drawing of Ritscher attending an anti-war rally in Chicago. The poster is part of his ongoing “Inspired Agitators” series of posters which tours in the USA and Canada as an element in a classroom and art gallery event called How Art and Music Can Change the World, co-presented with Jean Smith. Of his poster series, Lester says, “Presenting the ideas and lives of activists and artists this way is a form of social protest.” David Lester is giving away the poster as a pdf document.

Public Collectors: Malachi Ritscher will include artifacts from Ritscher’s work as a documentarian focused on recording the Chicago music scene, including a Mecca Normal performance at the Empty Bottle. The live set was recorded by Malachi Ritscher on November 11, 2002 while Mecca Normal was on tour with their album “The Family Swan” (Kill Rock Stars, 2002). On this occasion, a touring version of How Art and Music Can Change the World was being exhibited upstairs at the Bottle Cap. Malachi visited the art exhibition, which included many of David Lester’s “Inspired Agitators” posters and Jean Smith’s paintings depicting politically-charged events.

Malachi – the Mecca Normal song about Malachi Ritsher’s intentions and his death – was released as a 7″ record in 2010 by Olympia, Washington’s K Records. The cover art for the record is a painting by Jean Smith called Discovering Utopia. An acoustic version of the song and a video by Jean Smith were released on November 3, 2013, the seventh anniversary of Malachi Ritscher’s death.

Malachi poster, 7″ cover art, Malachi videos and lyrics

David Lester’s Inspired Agitators posters

Jean Smith’s Discovering Utopia series of paintings.

During July and August of 2014, Public Collectors: Malachi Ritscher will be exhibited at the Experimental Sound Studio in Chicago.

Mecca Normal – NEW ALBUM out in September of 2014 on M’lady’s Records– produced and mixed by KRAMER.

Free download – acoustic version of Malachi released on November 3, 2013, the seventh anniversary of Malachi Ritscher’s war protestation in Chicago. Jean Smith vocals, David Lester acoustic guitar, KRAMER on bass and keys. Produced and mixed by KRAMER.

Mecca Normal Newsletter

ARTIST BIOS: Jean Smith and David Lester formed the electric guitar and voice duo Mecca Normal in the early 1980s with the express intention of changing the world. The band has released thirteen albums (K Records, Matador, Kill Rock Stars). Together, Lester and Smith run a small press, a record label and a political art museum.

David Lester is the author of The Listener graphic novel (Arbeiter Ring, 2011) – the story of Hitler’s rise to power correlates to questions about the power of political art. David Lester lives in Vancouver, Canada.
The Listener graphic novel
Graphic Design

Jean Smith is the author of two published novels and a two-time recipient of Canada Council for the Arts awards as a writer of creative fiction. Her paintings have been included in two Black Dot Museum of Political Art exhibitions in OlympiaWashington, in 2010 and 2012. Jean Smith lives in Vancouver, Canada.
Paintings
Writing

Mecca Normal (Jean Smith & David Lester), 2011, photo by Judith Baumann

Click through to high resolution photo of Mecca Normal – Jean Smith and David Lester. Photo by Judith Baumann

CONTACT: meccanormal@hotmail.com

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Malachi (acoustic)

In November of 2012, Mecca Normal recorded an acoustic version of “Malachi”. It didn’t end up on the new album, but it gives a good indication of what the album sounds like.

FREE mp3

Jean Smith vocals, David Lester acoustic guitar, KRAMER on bass and keys. Produced and mixed by KRAMER. Recorded by Rat Bastard at the Laundry Room, Miami Beach in November of 2012.

“Malachi” is a stand-alone track from the “Empathy for the Evil” sessions.

Mladysanddrums

The album “Empathy for the Evil” will be released on M’lady’s Records in April, 2014. KRAMER plays bass on all songs with keys and organ throughout.

Malachi-Poster-by-David-Lester-WEB

Poster by David Lester from the Inspired Agitators series about activists and actions that intend to create progressive social change.

FREE poster

2093_45152778946_5599_n

David Lester is the author and illustrator of The Listener graphic novel (Arbeiter Ring, 2011) – the story of Hitler’s rise to power correlates to questions about the power of political art. A painter, graphic designer and guitar player in the underground rock duo Mecca Normal, David Lester lives in Vancouver, Canada.

No Coal 11 by Jean Smith  (16 x 16)

Paintings in the “Malachi” video are by Jean Smith from the series “No Coal” protesting the Raven Coal mine on Vancouver Island.

Video by Jean Smith.

Malachi Ritscher (1954-2006) was an anti-war activist who made high quality recordings of musicians — often free jazz and experimental — performing live in Chicago.

After the U.S. invaded Iraq, he became a vocal opponent of the war. Like monks opposing the Vietnam war, his final act of protest was self-immolation.

“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” by Jean Smith

And camera goes click as you press record
and you hand the document to the jazz musician
after they perform

And you talk and you listen
and you protest this war

And there is pain and it instigates change
And there is frustration that your voice is not heard
when you protest the war —
with a sign above your head — in words

And your camera goes click as you press record
and the can of gasoline is there on the ground
for this final document – your protest against the war
and some of us understood
you know the history well

And your camera goes click as you press record
and you pour the gasoline
and Malachi you light match
that ends your life
in this final statement
and some of us heard your final words

and Malachi you light match
that ends your life
in this final document – your protest against this war
and some of us understood
and some of us heard

your final word

Tagged , , , , ,