Friday, April 27, 1800 hours. Lumpen’s Art Army lined the banks of the Chicago River, set to begin the assault on the Merchandise Mart and “Artopolis.” “Fire!” shouted one of the legionaries of this Grand Art Armee and with a vigorous pull on a catapult lever, a torrent of water balloons was launched across the street, splashing across the Merch Mart’s exterior. A roar of triumphant laughter ripped through the legion. Amidst all of this, Bridgeport art coalition Lumpen’s leader Ed Marszewski was dispensing order by walkie-talkie and dressed in a manner that would impress Caesar himself, clad in a cape and a suit of plastic Roman armor to boot. In the midst of the ensuing confusion, someone yelled out “Attack!” and fifty or so art school students-cum-revolutionaries broke out into a vicious pillow fight, indiscriminately assaulting legionnaires and passersby alike, stopping only when a sufficient portion of the troop lay prostrate on the ground. This was the Art War, the final stand of Edmar and his rag tag art platoon, a last-ditch attempt to overthrow the Merchandise Mart’s “commercialized bullshit.”
Moments later, in a glorious throwback to the most exhilarating moments of Paris, 1792, the troop began beheading its enemies and firing their corpses at the Merchandise Mart’s bastions, expect this time they were mannequins and not the French artistocracy. Oh, and the guillotine was neon, and happened to be on a pick-up truck.
Shortly, however, it was time to flee the scene, since the police were on their wary, and the guerrillas began a triumphant march off to celebrate their ideological victory (and probably to go get trashed), accompanied by a battle theme turned samba played on electric guitar with accompanying horns section –and all of Critical Mass. The catapult was hauled down the center of the street, and those guys holding the banner that reads “Surrender” in huge letters still managed to keep it waving upright, despite the fact that all several hundred of the army were in full retreat, running downhill through a parking garage.
The hundreds of bicyclists, dressed almost as ridiculously–excuse me, appropriately–as the Art Invaders, seemed a little perplexed by the fact that these guys, who don’t really seem to be protesting anything, had stopped in a parking lot to fire stuffed animals at each other. Yet to some degree, it made sense in context. A bicyclist, dressed straight out of “Road Warrior,” biked up alongside me, looked over and said, “Hooray for art school.”