Public Collectors - New Hardcore Architecture Publication | The Courtroom Artist Residency Program Begins
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As promised, here's part two of September's newsletter, announcing two more recent publications and a report from the first Courtroom Artist Residency. It's a lot to read but I hope you'll have a look. Also! I'll be at the NY Art Book Fair from September 20-23 at MoMA PS1. I'll be helping hold down the table with Temporary Services / Half Letter Press. Find us on the 2nd floor in the Friendly Fire section and check out these recent publications in person, or just say hi!

— Marc Fischer / Public Collectors

Hardcore Architecture: Thrash Advertising: Underground Ads from Zines and Bands of the 1980s - early 1990s

The latest publication from the Hardcore Architecture project focuses on paper advertising ephemera from underground zines and bands of the 1980s to the early 1990s. From the essay booklet:

Little slips of printed paper, crammed with details about new demo tapes, records, zines, distribution and mail order services or other offerings, found their way into countless letters throughout the 1980s and 1990s. It was common for an envelope to explode with these bits of this and that—all modest attempts to spread the word, drum up some orders or correspondence, and reach new audiences. Zines used them to solicit demo tapes for review and new writing to publish. Bands used them to sell their tapes and records. Given the vast number of people that were engaged in pen pal relationships and tape and zine trading, many thousands of these slips of paper moved back and forth all over the world.

In addition to a short booklet that includes quotes from some zine-makers, band members and record labels about this practice, the main feature here is the recreation of 66 facsimiles of these little ads: scanned from my own archives or the collections of others and all reprinted and cut by hand in the loving but extremely labor-intensive mode of bedroom publishers of yore. Essentially, this edition is a portable exhibit of designed and printed paper bits that many people made and used, but far fewer people thought to save.

PURCHASE ($20.00)

54 Hits From Hell by Blake Edwards

Sometimes I come across a text—or in this case a series of texts—on the internet and it just looks like a publication waiting to happen. I had that experience as I watched my pal Blake Edwards analyze, critique, and ultimately rank every song by the band The Misfits, one song at a time, over a series of Facebook posts. At some point I asked, "You're going to make a zine from this, right?" He had no original intention of doing so, but liked the idea of turning all 54 posts into a publication so we threw caution to the wind, and made a 'zine together. It was our first collaboration, it happened quickly, it was fun, and Blake even helped out with the collating and stapling. An obvious must for fans of The Misfits, or fans of fans of The Misfits.

[PURCHASE] $4.00

Courtroom Artist Residency Report #1: Peggy Pierrot

The Courtroom Artist Residency Program has begun. There has been a lot of interest in being a resident and the first year is pretty full. Still, if you are interested, please let me know and I will try to accommodate you. Here is a report from the first residency. When I begin creating booklets for this project, they will include a lot of extra material including an edited transcript of the conversation Peggy Pierrot and I had after court.

September 5, 2018 marked the first Public Collectors Courtroom Artist Residency. The first resident was Peggy Pierrot.

Peggy Pierrot has been visiting Chicago from Brussels this summer as part of the Method Room in Chicago, a program of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy. She describes herself as an “Ex-journalist and webmaster, I am now a project manager, teacher & independant researcher (on software, human sciences and popular cultures), writer, radio host currently living in Brussels, Belgium.” I was able to briefly meet Peggy once before this residency and was eager to spend the day with her at court and in discussion over delicious food at Taqueria El Milagro.

For this first residency we began on a day of unusual importance for Chicago. Yesterday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel made a shocking announcement that he would not seek reelection for a third term. At Leighton Criminal Court, today was the first day of jury selection in the trial of Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke who is charged with murder in the shooting death of Laquan McDonald. Rahm Emanuel is widely believed to have repressed video of the shooting until after he was reelected , and this case has dogged him for his entire second term.

The day started with epic morning traffic and I was nearly thirty minutes late picking Peggy up near a Metra train stop about four miles east of Criminal Court. In the car ride to court we spent some time talking about jury duty and our previous experiences observing court. Peggy has never been to court in the US but she has observed court in France. She explained the differences in how juries are selected in France and the French system depends heavily on computer algorithms to aid in the jury selection process. We also talked about how big data is now used in the selection of juries by some lawyers.

Once we arrived at Leighton Criminal Court, we parked a few blocks away, locked our phones in the car, and walked to 26th and California. There, anti-police protesters from the Revolutionary Communist Party marched in front of the building and a larger protest camp of about 125 people was stationed behind barricades across the street.

Entering the building and clearing the metal detector went relatively fast and easy considering the additional activity inside and out. A whopping 200 potential jurors were filling out a questionnaire regarding the Van Dyke trial elsewhere in the building. We tried visiting room 500, the court of Judge Vincent Gaughan, who is trying the Van Dyke case, but of course it was impossible to get in and there was already a small throng of activists and others who wanted to attend but could not. I later heard on the radio that some members of Laquan McDonald’s family were among those that weren’t able to be in the room.

After exploring other parts of the building, since we were still early, we settled on one room with a thick wall of glass that separates the main court space from the seating area. By the time we left the court house at around 12:45 we had been in three different court rooms and probably observed no fewer than 40 people stand before a Judge. Some had public defenders, some were there on their own or with family, and almost no one had a private lawyer. Approximately half were in custody and were wearing Department of Corrections uniforms. The other half were people awaiting trial, on probation, or in some other in between state. All but one or two defendants were persons of color.

One of the most compelling sessions came near the end of the morning when a group of people who seemed to be dealing with drug or alcohol-related charges faced the Judge. One was a young woman who had failed a drug test while on probation and was found to have opioids and other drugs in her system. She had a one month old baby and the court seemed to be scrambling a little to figure out a detox plan for her. Ultimately she was taken to jail for two days and it looked like treatment arrangements were being made for her.

This same Judge then met with a group of four men, who were all checking in with the court. They are in recovery programs and the Judge was far more personable with them than we’d seen in this or any other court all morning. He said things like, “Keep focused. Don’t put anything in your system.” “Are those crutches new? Cellulitis? I’ve had that happen to me too.” “What’s going on? You seem on edge. You seem a little distant today.” “How do you like your new way of living?” “You have to attend more meetings and get yourself a good recovery network.” “The more you have interactions with people in recovery the better it will be.” “When people like you do well it encourages all of us.”

This group of four men stayed near the Judge’s bench waiting in the empty seating area normally reserved for the jury. When the Judge finished speaking to the last man, he did something remarkable and unsettling. He pulled out a large goldfish bowl filled with lollipops and other candies and invited each grown man to come up and take candy from the fish bowl. They do, and file out of court. The optics are worsened by the fact that the judge is white and the men are all persons of color.

Shortly after this we leave the court. It is past time for lunch break and the room is nearly empty so we depart with just a few people still waiting to be called.

We head back to my car only to find that my battery is completely dead. Peggy, who is extraordinarily patient and understanding, waits as I call AAA. Since it will be a little while, we take refuge from the sun inside a Panda Express on the other side of the street. It is absolutely filled with cops. Ignoring them, we take out my recorder and record about 40 minutes of conversation before a service vehicle arrives with a new battery for my car. Once that’s sorted, we are extremely hungry and proceed to Taqueria El Milagro which truly feels like a reward given that it’s now almost 2:00 PM and we’ve been at it since 8:00 AM. I order a plate of Pollo en Mole and Peggy gets a plate of Beef Stew. We record some more conversation and devour our food, which is so good that Peggy goes back and orders an extra credit taco. I probably should have done the same.

While eating I notice that two of the people from the last court room—Public Defenders I believe—are finishing up their own meal at Taqueria El Milagro. One of the reasons I wanted to use this restaurant as a site for this meal-based artist residency is because I suspected this would happen–that the experience inside the court house might spill over into the meal part of the residency experience. I imagine there will be a lot more of this as the project continues.
If you are here, you either just did a lot of reading or a lot of scrolling. Thank you for following these projects and publications. Be well and see you in another month or so.
— Marc / Public Collectors

Public Collectors organizes exhibitions and events, participates in exhibitions organized by others, creates exhibition opportunities for collectors, teaches, lectures, responds to research inquiries, and makes its own publications. The administrator of Public Collectors is Marc Fischer. He is based in Chicago, Illinois.

Our mailing address is:
Public Collectors c/o
Half Letter Press
P.O. Box 12588
Chicago, IL 60612

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