ZAPANTERA NEGRA | An Artistic Encounter Between Black Panthers and Zapatistas

Photo Curtesy of EDELO, Zapantera Negra. The installation was at Fresno State University H street graduate gallery.

The School of Mutation within the framework of the iteration  We have a situation here holds an artistic encounter between Black Panthers and Zapatistas on Thursday MARCH 11th at 19:00 CET. Join us on Zoom Meeting ID: 894 0222 3075 – Streaming online on IRI YouTube Channel – Share the FB event

What is the role of revolutionary art in times of distress? When Emory Douglas, former Minister of Culture of the Black Panther Party, accepted an invitation from the art collective EDELO and Rigo 23 to meet with autonomous Indigenous and Zapatista communities in Chiapas, Mexico, they addressed just this question. Zapantera Negra is the result of their encounter. It unites the bold aesthetics, revolutionary dreams, and dignified declarations of two leading movements that redefine emancipatory politics in the twentieth and twenty-first century.

The artists of the Black Panthers and the Zapatistas were born into a centuries-long struggle against racial capitalism and colonialism, state repression and international war and plunder. Not only did these two movements offer the world an enduring image of freedom and dignified rebellion, they did so with rebellious style, putting culture and aesthetics at the forefront of political life. A powerful elixir of hope and determination, Zapantera Negra provides a galvanizing presentation of interviews, militant artwork, and original documents from these two movements’ struggle for dignity and liberation.

EDELO (Where the United Nations Used to Be) 

In the Fall of 2009, over one hundred displaced indigenous community members occupied the offices of the United Nations, located in San Cristóbal de las Casa, Chiapas, Mexico. The offices were taken over in the hope of gaining international attention from humanitarian organizations. After a few months of the occupation, the United Nations simply decided to find another building and moved.

A few months later, Mia Eva Rollow and Caleb Duarte, repurposed the building.  It is a part of an investigation into how Art, in all its disciplines and contradictions, can take the supposed role of such institutional bodies to create understanding, empathy, and to serve as a tool for imagining alternatives to a harmful and violent system that we do not have to accept.

Inspired by the 1994 indigenous Zapatista uprising, where word and poetry are used to inspire a generation to imagine ‘other’ possible worlds, EDELO has retained the name of the UN office.  From 2009 to 2014, EDELO, Where The United Nations Used to Be, was an artist run project in Chiapas, Mexico that created sculptural performances and community events through relational aesthetics, social practice, and social sculpture. EDELO centered its practice as an intercultural artist residency of diverse practices and an ever-changing experimental art laboratory and safe house. The work at its core focused on the lessons and use of art by the EZLN, the Zapatista autonomous indigenous movement in Chiapas, Mexico that has used art as a main tool to demand immediate and drastic social and economic change as a response to 500 years of invisibility, oppression, and neglect. The works consisted of artist residencies in Zapatista territory as well as at our art center and gallery. The emerging aesthetic was one of urgency in the face of the continuing clash between colonial and Mayan Mexican indigenous worldviews. 

EDELO Migrante  2014 – Present

Once an experimental intercultural art space and residency of diverse practices inhabiting the building of the former UN, Edelo is now nomadic collectives creating works with diverse communities in the Americas.

Our work is of urgency. It is theater, sculpture, social practice, dance, painting organizing festivals in the spirit of true collaboration and shared authorship with the communities and art spaces that we work with.  URGENT ART is a specific working methodology that collaborates with artist from different disciplines in the development of art. It encourages us to listen to what communities are expressing and turning that into a visible living experience. This augments the possibilities of converting experienced moments of tragedy into situations of healing.