Founded in 2007 by Marc Fischer (b. 1970), Public Collectors is intended “to engage in collaborations with others who are dedicated to preserving the kind of cultural materials that museums and other institutions often disregard.”
Included in Public Collectors’ 2014 Biennial installation are artifacts from the life of Malachi Ritscher (1954–2006). From the early 1980s until his death, Ritscher recorded (with the artists’ permission) thousands of free-jazz, experimental, underground, and improvised concerts in Chicago. By committing to tape, CD, and data recorder nearly the entire breadth of a music scene, Ritscher not only captured music that would have otherwise been lost to ephemerality and the tides of mainstream culture, he also participated in and encouraged a community based on respect and generosity.
In addition to his participation in the music scene in Chicago, Ritscher was a political activist and a vocal opponent of the war in Iraq. On November 3, 2006, at rush hour on a Chicago expressway ramp, he displayed a sign reading “Thou Shalt Not Kill. As Ye Sow So Shall Ye Reap. Your Taxes Buy Bombs and Bullets” and set himself on fire in front of a sculpture titled Flame of the Millennium. Although carefully coordinated and video-documented by Ritscher, his suicidal protest was not widely reported.
Hours of Malachi Ritscher's recordings, preserved and archived by Creative Audio Archive at Chicago’s Experimental Sound Studio, are accessible via a listening station at the 2014 Biennial. They are included alongside other artifacts from his life and a free offset publication by Public Collectors.
Academy Records and Matt Hanner
Ei Arakawa and Carissa Rodriguez
Robert Ashley and Alex Waterman
Lisa Anne Auerbach
Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Véréna
Paravel, and Sensory Ethnography Lab
Critical Practices Inc.
Zackary Drucker and Rhys Ernst
Radamés “Juni” Figueroa
Gaylen Gerber with David Hammons,
Sherrie Levine, and Trevor Shimizu
Tony Greene curated by Richard
Hawkins and Catherine Opie
Yve Laris Cohen
My Barbarian (Malik Gaines, Jade Gordon
and Alexandro Segade)
Sara Greenberger Rafferty
Steve Reinke with Jessie Mott
Valerie Snobeck and Catherine Sullivan
Charline von Heyl
David Foster Wallace