Art may seem like a secondary concern this week, but come Jan. 20, it will enter the streets in the form of handmade signs, banners, songs and chants. Art -- and artists -- will stay there, creating visual symbols of the movements to come, writing the new anthems of solidarity and performing the actions of resistance we'll witness or participate in for the days, weeks and years ahead.
Amidst the hustle and bustle of last weekend’s art fair bonanza, San Francisco's Anglim Gilbert Gallery opened Autonomous InterGalactic Space Program, an exhibition of works by Rigo 23 made in collaboration with artisans of Chiapas, Mexico.
If you're wondering why Rigo 23's name sounds familiar, here are several possibilities: a) his long history of political and community-focused work; b) his highly visible public art, like the large-scale One Tree mural near the Highway 101 onramp at San Francisco's 10th and Bryant Streets; and/or c) the recent removal of his Leonard Peltier statue from the American University campus in Washington, D.C.
Inspired by the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) and their 23-year struggle to combat globalization and marginalization by the Mexican state, Rigo 23 asked Zapatista artists to imagine a different kind of future for their annual meeting -- the Global Festival of Dignified Rage. What if the festival was truly intergalactic, he asked. What if the next invitation came from a host beyond the Milky Way? How would the EZLN attend?
Autonomous InterGalactic Space Program, first shown in 2012 at REDCAT in Los Angeles, is the answer to that question in the form of a sculptural installation. Like the futures proffered in Southern Exposure’s Sooner or Later, Autonomous InterGalactic Space Program depicts a space program designed by people less interested in technological progress than in a radically reworked society.
Showcasing the work of weavers, painters, seamstresses, carpenters and cultural activists, Autonomous InterGalactic Space Program creates an environment for viewers to fully enter and explore, filled with the handiwork of over 100 collaborators.
The playful, hopeful elements of Autonomous InterGalactic Space Program may appear far removed from the posters, chants and bodies pouring into American streets this week, but to the EZLN, art and poetry are revolutionary weapons. A journey to space in a giant ear of corn may be the radically different future we all need to imagine right now.
Autonomous InterGalactic Space Program is on view at Anglim Gilbert Gallery in Minnesota Street Project, San Francisco through Feb. 27. Visit anglimgilbertgallery.com for more information.