Art & Activism


The ‘Indignant ones’. 

The ‘Wall St.’ occupation.  (The ’60’s’)




–Ben Morea

One of the reasons I moved to Chicago in 2003 was how deeply impressed I was by the mix of art and activism I saw during the events held in opposition to the TransAtlantic Business Dialogue (TABD) meeting that was held there the previous year.

One of the groups that most impressed me prints the journal Lumpen.  At that time they had a loft in Wicker Park called the Buddy Space.  There was a TransAtlantic Booty Dancing Party there after the last day of actions against the TABD.  There was paper covering the walls so people could paint, letter set presses printing posters for another protest next month, music, pinatas of a cop and a capitalist, and films being shown outdoors on the roof!  After a couple years in the dry atmosphere of washed up caricatures of Leninism and anarchism Northeastern Ohio had to offer, this was a real breath of fresh air and I was sold!  When I moved to town I started reading Lumpen, and volunteering at the Autonomous Zone Infoshop in the nearby barrio Bucktown, another space that emphasized art and activism.

About that time I becamse interested in the Youth International Party (Yippies) and read their co-founder Abbie Hoffman’s auto-biography, Soon To Be A Major Motion Picture again and again.  I felt there were a lot of parallels between what they were doing in Manhattan’s Lower East Side in the 1960s and what we were trying to do in Chicago.  While reading this book the first time I became familiar with another organization Hoffman simply called “The Motherfuckers,” who I went on to read about many times over the years under a couple other names such as The Family and Up Against The Wall Motherfucker.

It seemed like they were something different to everyone; a gang, a street gang with an analysis, an affinity group, a collective in Students for a Democratic Society.  I also started to see some stories about the proceeding group Black Mask.

The book Black Mask & Up Against The Wall Motherfucker:  The Incomplete Works of Ron Hahne, Ben Morea, and the Black Mask Group is an ecellent source of materials by both groups printed when they were active.

Having read a fair amount about these organizations, most recently the memoir section of Up Against the Wall Motherf**ker:  A Memoir of the Sixties with Notes for Next Time by Osha Neumann, I highly recommend this book to those interested in art and activism in general, and the New Left and 1960s in particular.


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