Wall Street is War Street - Today at 5 pm in room W 605 at Pace University for Left Forum 2012.
Sean Stewart, editor of On the Ground: An Illustrated Anecdotal History of the Sixties Underground Press in the U.S., will introduce and moderate a discussion between Ben Morea and Josh MacPhee about the role that art and artists play in social change.
Ben Morea was the main instigator of the Black Mask group, Up Against The Wall/Motherfucker (UAW/MF), and the Armed Love communal movement. By the end of the Sixties, facing increased police attention, Morea “disappeared” into the rural communal movement. Galvanized by the current imperial wars he has reemerged to talk of the legacy and history of Black Mask and UAW/MF and their relevance to the struggles today.
Since 1998 Josh MacPhee has commissioned and produced over one hundred posters that pay tribute to revolution, racial justice, women’s rights, queer liberation, labor struggles, and creative activism and organizing. His most recent books are Celebrate People’s History, Signs of Change, and Paper Politics. He is a founding member of the artists’ cooperative Justseeds.org, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Book signing this Sunday!
Founded in New York City in the mid-1960s by self-educated ghetto kid and painter Ben Morea, the Black Mask group melded the ideas and inspiration of Dada and the Surrealists with the anarchism of the Durruti Column from the Spanish Revolution. With a theory and practice that had much in common with their contemporaries the San Francisco Diggers, Dutch Provos and the French Situationists—who famously excommunicated three of the four members of the British section of the Situationist International for associating too closely with Black Mask—the group intervened spectacularly in the art, politics and culture of their times. From shutting down the Museum of Modern Art to protesting Wall Street’s bankrolling of war, from battling with Maoists at SDS conferences to defending the Valerie Solanas shooting of Andy Warhol, Black Mask successfully straddled the counterculture and politics of the 1960s and remained the Joker in the pack of both sides of “The Movement.”
By 1968 Black Mask dissolved into “The Family” (popularly known as Up Against The Wall Motherfucker—the name to which they signed their first leaflet), which combined the confrontational theater and tactics of Black Mask with a much more aggressively “street” approach in dealing with the police and authorities. Dubbed a “street gang with analysis,” they influenced everyone from the Weathermen to the “hippy” communal movements.
By the end of the 1960s, facing increased police attention Ben Morea “disappeared” into the rural communal movement and anonymity. Galvanized by the current Imperial wars, he is starting to re-emerge to talk of the legacy and history of Black Mask and The Family and their relevance to the struggles today.
About On the Ground:
In four short years (1965-1969) the underground press grew from five small newspapers in as many cities in the U.S. to over 500 newspapers—with millions of readers—all over the world. Comprised of stories told by the people involved and over 100 full-color images taken from a broad range of underground newspapers, On the Ground provides a true window into the spirit of the times.
Hope to see you there…it’s gonna be a dope night.
Please help get the word out; reblog, facebook, tweet, take a picture of your computer screen with instagram, all that shit…
Shouts to the homie Josh MacPhee from Justseeds.org who did the inside design of my book.
“As a writer, I didn’t care about Simon & Schuster; I wanted to be in the East Village Other. That was my idea of the standard of excellence—the underground press.” —John Sinclair in On the Ground
As far as publishing goes, PM Press is my idea of the standard of excellence and a large part of that is being able to work with people like Josh, who went above and beyond in designing the interior and tackling the layout. Perhaps the best praise for what Josh did with the book comes from Ron Jacobs who said:
“Like the papers his interviewees are remembering, the most striking thing about On the Ground is the layout. Even though I know the book was composed on a computer screen, the book looks as if it were laid out via the old cut and paste method by folks possibly stoned on weed and a day or two with minimal sleep–just like many issues of almost every paper Stewart discusses.”