This week through Memorial Day weekend you can view Malachi (18 x 28″ poster) by Mecca Normal guitarist David Lester in the 2014 Whitney Biennial, about war protester Malachi Ritscher. The exhibition also includes a recording from a live set performed by Mecca Normal, and both sides of the cover of Mecca Normal‘s volume in our International Pop Underground series, “Malachi” [IPU132]. The painting on the record cover is called Discovering Utopia by Mecca Normal vocalist Jean Smith.
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
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.” You can down-load a free copy of David Lester ‘s Inspired Agitators poster featuring Malachi Ritscher HERE.
Below photog: David Lester and Jean Smith, Mecca Normal: