Emory Douglas, Minister of Culture for the Black Panther Party, meets Zapatista Mayan Artist in Zapatista territory to create some ART.
Zapantera Negra is a project defined by the social, cultural, and political experiences of several art activists who brought together the ideological and aesthetic frameworks of the Zapatistas and Black Panthers. The project coalesced around the alternative architectural site known as EDELO (En Donde Era La Onu) [Where the United Nations Used to Be], a centripetal community and artistic space of collective activities and freewheeling creation founded by Caleb Duarte and Mia Eve Rollow in 2009 -2014, in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, México. Zapantera Negra is now a traveling project of art exhibits and artistic workshops in collaborations with students, native american artist and communities, and cultural/educational institutions that it visits.
These exhibitions are a medium for those experiences as they reveal the various social spaces that are negotiated through Zapantera Negra, from the Black Arts Movement and the anticolonial, revolutionary politics of the Panthers, to indigenous cosmology and the communal struggles of the Zapatistas. Voiced and refracted through interviews and personal recollections, and depicted through poetic fantasy and artistic self-determination, the different elements of this project come together to assert an optimistic resistance to social and cultural repression, economic austerity, and police impunity. Zapantera Negra presents a heterogeneous, intergenerational road map for a transcontinental culture of creation, providing insights into the way in which different traditions of political art and social activism can be fused together in the service of emancipatory social change. 1
1 Excerpt from Zapantera Negra Book by Marc James Leger and David Tomas. Commun Notions Publishing NY, NY. 2017.
At the peak of its popularity in 1970, 139,000 copies of The Black Panther newsletter were distributed throughout the United States on a weekly basis. Within its pages, Emory
Douglas, the movement’s Minister of Culture, published his artworks in an effort to “illustrate conditions that made revolution seem necessary; and... construct a visual mythology of power for people who felt powerless and victimized.” The newsletter and its accompanying illustrations played a central role in the articulation of the “What We Want, What We Believe” portion of the Black Panther’s Ten Point Program.
Pintando Auditorio con estudiantes en comunidad Zapatista 14 de Noviembre & Visita de Obantic
la ceremonia con familia Gallo de Chamula
La Escuelita & Pintando Tienda Zapatista en Comunidad Moises Ghandi
Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, 2014 Encuentro MANIFEST! Choreographing Social Movements in the Americas
Presentacion Universidad de la Tierra
Visita y creation con comunidad Autonoma Elambo Bajo
In 1994, the Zapatista uprising, a Mexican, indigenous movement originating in the southern state of Chiapas, generated and disseminated a different sort of mass communication made possible by the rise of the Internet. Photographic, video, and written information regarding the movement’s actions spread around the world in real time,increasing awareness of the Zapatista cause while also building solidarity for what the New York Times termed “the first post-modern revolution.” Positioning itself as a struggle against neoliberalism waged against 500 years of oppression, Zapatismo has employed new technologies of information distribution in order to articulate their wants, beliefs, and various identities to themselves and to their global audience.
The Black Panther and the Zapatista movements occurred in distinct cultural, political, and historical milieus; nonetheless, the two share a common appreciation of the power of the image and the written word to build their respective social movements into personal,collective, transformative, and public experiences. In contrast to the strong self-definition established and disseminated by these two movements via pertinent media channels, today’s multimedia, plugged-in landscape seems to promote the opposite development.
Zapantera Negra gathered the visual results of four encounters, beginning in 2012 through 2016, between the Black Panthers and Zapatistas and guided by the works and presence of Emory Douglas, former Minister of Culture of the Black Panther Party. For this encounter, Emory Douglas and Edelo, as well as invited educators and artist, teamed up with Zapatista women embroidery collectives, Zapatista farmers and painters,and with local artists, activists and musicians to create new works that reflect and celebrate these two powerful movements.From public interventions, installations, video art, performance, mural painting, lectures, and living and working with Zapatista families, Zapantera Negra presents a collection of works ignited collectively by the public’s urge and necessity to demonstrate, protest, and create. And in times of much revolutionary fever and economic inequality, we feel it isimportant to share what art can and has done to create change and thus to break society’s notion of normality.
An Artistic Encounter Between Black Panthers and Zapatistas
EDITED BY MARC JAMES LÉGER AND DAVID TOMAS
WITH EMORY DOUGLAS, EDELO (MIA EVE ROLLOW AND CALEB DUARTE PIÑON), RIGO 23, AND SAÚL KAK
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 the 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.
“Zapantera Negra is an incredible endeavor, the depth of which is not often found in social practice: a direct and embodied connection between a key actor in a major social movement in US history (the Black Panthers) and the people of Chiapas, carrying the legacy and expressions of an equally revolutionary struggle in Mexico (the Zapatistas), some thirty years apart. The subtlety and complexity of this project, and its implications for a globally engaged arts-based activism is truly impressive.”
—Suzanne Lacy, artist and author of Leaving Art and Mapping the Terrain: New Genre Public Art
UN MUNDO DONDE CEPAN MUCHOS MUNDOS / A WORLD WHERE MANY WORLDS FIT
Zapantera Negra large embroidery Installation, Casa de las Americas, Havana, Cuba, 2018.
“With a generous spirit of dialogue and inquiry, Zapantera Negra sparkles! It usefully brings together Black Panther Party and Zapatista political-aesthetic sensibilities, and it opens up wonderful questions that blur the lines between art and activism. In a time of resurgent Indigenous and Black freedom struggles in North America, this book offers inspiration for building transformative movements with vitality and vision.”
—Chris Dixon, activist and author of Another Politics: Talking Across Today’s Transformative Movements
“Zapantera Negra is a rare document from the US and Mexico that intertwines art, dialogues, and processes between artists and cultural spaces that open collaborative intersections of politics and creation far outside the confines of art as commerce and rigid politics. Blending striking images and personal stories of the Black Panther Party and the Zapatistas, the book spans revolutionary tendencies and histories rooted in collective liberation. With hope and determination, Zapantera Negra shows us the power that art has to seed flowers that push through concrete, dissolve static confines, and open liberatory possibilities for living unwritten futures.”
—scott crow, author of Black Flags and Windmills: Hope, Anarchy and the Common Ground Collective and Emergency Hearts, Molotov Dreams
ZAPANTERA NEGRA CV
LOS HUECOS DEL AGUA: ARTE ACTUAL DE PUEBLOS ORIGINARIOS / THE HOLES OF WATER: CURRENT ART OF ORIGINAL PEOPLES
Zapantera Negraembroidery installation, Museo del Chopo de la Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico,Mexico City, MX.
UN MUNDO DONDE CEPAN MUCHOS MUNDOS / A WORLD WHERE MANY WORLDS FIT
Zapantera Negra large embroidery Installation, Casa de las Americas, Havana, Cuba.
Book Presentation with Chiapas Support Committee Oakland, OMNI Oakland CA.
INTERGALACTIC SPACE PROGRAM Minnesota Projects San Francisco CA.
COMPARTE- ZAPANTERA NEGRA MURAL Zapatista Conference for Artist & Scientists, University of the Earth, Chiapas, Mexico.
FLOWER OF THE WORD, Zapantera Negra. Fresno State University M St. Gallery.
Center for Creativity and the Arts. Fresno CA.
ZAPANTERA Oakland Museum of California 50th Anniversary of the Black Panther Party.
RE-EVOLUTION La Peña Center Berkeley CA.
COMPARTE University of the Earth, San Cristóbal de Las Casas Chiapas México.
RICHARD BELL & EMORY DOUGLAS ALL POWER TO THE PEOPLE: TRANSCENDING BORDERS
Milani Gallery Brisbane Australia
COMPANERAS: Zapatista Women's Stories. Center for Political Education. San Francisco CA.
OMNI Chiapas Support Committee. Oakland CA.
ART AND ACTIVISM in Latin America. University of California Santa Cruz.
HEMISPHERIC INSTITUTE OF PERFORMANCE AND POLITICS
Encuentro MANIFEST! Choreographing Social Movements in the Americas exhibition, with Emory Douglas, Saul Kak, and indigenous artists, Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery, Montréal, Canada.
ZAPANTERA East Side Arts Alliance Oakland CA.
ZAPANTERA San Francisco State University Ethnic Department
ZAPANTERA CIDECI University of the Dirt. San Cristóbal De LAs Casas Chiapas MX.
ZAPANTERA NEGRA Centro Hemisférico Encuentro Montréal, Canadá.
RESURFACING Mission Cultural Center San Francisco CA.
EL Paliacate San Cristóbal De LAs Casas Chiapas MX.
FOMA Centro Hemispheric Institute San Cristóbal De LAs Casas Chiapas MX.
EDELO WHere the United Nations Used to Be San Cristóbal De LAs Casas Chiapas MX.
Convocatoria Zapatista CompArte ConCiencias por la Humanidad
Zapatista Festival CompArte ConCiencias for Humanity
Flower of the Word, Installation view, Center for Creativity and Arts, California State University, Frezno CA.
Black Panther 50 Year Anniversary Celebration and Zapantera Negra Presentation, Oakland, CA.