Anti-gun violence flash mob to hit the Loop

  • Photo courtesy of Art/Ammo.
Photo courtesy of Art/Ammo.
March 22, 2013|By Rachel Cromidas, @rachelcromidas | RedEye

Look at the ground around Daley Plaza this Sunday, and you might be in for a jarring sight: the chalk outlines of fifty or more human bodies, scattered as though the Loop were a murder scene.

That is the hope of Stephen Lukas, 25, one of the organizers behind a flash-mob style performance meant to draw attention to the gun violence that plagues Chicago and other cities.

"Our goal is to get people to ask questions," said Lukas, a musical theater performer and River North resident. "Seeing a certain number of chalk outlines of lifeless bodies has an effect on people-I think it's very visceral, and that's what we want to create."

To make that impact, Lukas said he is inviting any Chicagoan to participate in the flash mob, called Art=Ammo, which will begin with a rehearsal at a downtown dance studio at 10 a.m. on Sunday, and then proceed to Daley Plaza at noon. He said more than fifty people have signed up on the event's website to join in, and he is using Facebook and Twitter to get the word out more.

Art=Ammo was created by the New York-based choreographer and dancer Lorin Latarro, but Lukas said the steps would be easy for anyone to follow along.

First, he said, "We will hold our hands up in a position of surrender for 26 seconds, to honor the 26 victims of [the recent school shooting in Newtown, Conn]. It's a vulnerable position that gets people looking."

In the second step, he said, pairs of participants sink to the ground and take turns drawing their partner's outline in chalk and writing anti-violence messages above the outlined bodies.

Close to 200 people participated in the performance in New York, which Latarro organized with the help of the theater community.

To help Art=Ammo's message hit home in Chicago, Latarro said, she wants the flash-mobsters to write the names of local victims of gun violence over the chalk outlines, including Jonylah Watkins, a six-month-old who was shot earlier this month in Woodlawn, and some of the students of West Englewood's Harper High School.

"And we'll put "Indiana Gun Show" inside one of them," she said, "because people are bringing guns across the border from Indiana."

Chicago would be the second in a series of cities to play host to Art/Ammo. The first performance took place in New York City's Times Square in February, and organizers are planning more for Philadelphia and Boston.

Latarro said she hopes the Sunday afternoon strollers who come upon the flash mob will be left with the message that every death counts.

"As actors, we understand that antagonists and protagonists in a play switch parts scene by scene, that saying "bad guys" and "good guys" doesn't really mean much," she said. "Dead bodies mean dead bodies."

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