Realize Your Desires: Underground Press from the Library of Stefan Brecht


“Printed Matter presents Realize Your Desires: Underground Press from the Library of Stefan Brecht, an exhibition of alternative and independently-published newsprint periodicals from the early ‘60s to mid ‘70s.  Featuring work from nearly 30 presses with over 400 individual issues, the exhibition highlights both well-recognized and under-known publications, presented from the collection of the late poet, theater critic, and philosopher Stefan Brecht. The exhibition spans across Printed Matter’s back wall and adjoining project room, with hundreds of items available for purchase (several in complete or near-complete runs).  … Under the rubric of a loosely affiliated (and sometimes syndicated) ‘Underground Press’, these periodicals trace a powerful shift in a rapidly evolving cultural landscape. Usually published as weeklies – often in large editions – and broadly distributed locally and by subscription, the Underground Press provided a vibrant space for revolutionary ideas which played out on all fronts of politics and culture, and offered a searing response to many issues of the day. For the years it was active, the Underground Press served as a radical agent in the push for civil rights on a host of issues including, the anti-war movement, black power movement, women’s liberation, gay rights, sexual liberation, drug culture, and anti-colonialism/imperialism. The publications of the ‘Underground Press’ emerged out of a specific historical moment. In 1966 a Supreme Court decision allowing that ‘offensive material’ was permissible if it was seen to have redeeming social value created a relatively tolerant legal climate in which the Underground Press was able to thrive. Within seven years amidst the Nixonian backlash against political and cultural dissent, a Supreme Court Decision in 1973 effectively reversed the previous ruling and a higher threshold of censorship contributed to the squelching of this vibrant cultural phenomenon. Realize Your Desires traces the rise of radical voices via the Underground Press into the early seventies, at which point it is supplanted by a more subdued ‘alternative’ press offering a broader catch-all coverage of news, culture and the arts from a mainstream liberal perspective, with much of its radicality excised.  …”
Printed Matter
The Underground Press and Its Extraordinary Moment in US History
The Art of Rags

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