By Alessandro Zagato & Natalia Arcos
“The earth is that from which we were born, that gave us life, and in which we will rest eternally. That is why we are all the colours that we are, all of the languages that our hearts speak; that is why we are peoples, tribes, and nations. We are the guardians of these lands, of this country Mexico, of this continent and of the world.” (EZLN, August 2014)
Between the 24th of January and the 15th of March, UIB Egalitarianism researcher Alessandro Zagato and Chilean art historian Natalia Arcos will participate in “Rights of Nature: Art and Ecology in the Americas”. This is an exhibition hosted by Nottingham Contemporary art centre in England, which will gather fifteen artists confronting the environmental crisis as it is plays out across the Americas, from the Andes to the Arctic.
Our participation, titled “Autonomy is Life” (Autonomia es Vida), won’t consist in the display of a conventional artwork. Rather it will present an organisation of a Space, which recreates a sort of “archive of Zapatismo”. This space will display various pieces of visual art and literature tightly related to (or produced by) the contemporary Zapatista movement of Chiapas, Mexico. On the 11th of March we will be present at the exhibition to give a workshop and a guided tour of the installation. For updated information on the schedule please visit nottinghamcontemporary.org.
Zapatismo, Art, and Ecology
The links between Zapatismo and aesthetics are fairly evident in our view. Many artists (some even very popular like French musician Manu Chao) have adopted elements of the Zapatista imaginary in their art production. However the Zapatista political process has since its beginning been deeply shaped by singular forms of aesthetics and poetics. These have been decisive in producing subversive content, communicating with the civil society, generating affinity of views and cohesion among activists, and stimulating their subjective flourishing – imagining (and experimenting with) ideas of equality for possible better worlds. This particular synthesis of politics and aesthetics has been vital to the process of constructing a real historical alternative, subverting what Jacques Ranciere (2006) has described as “distribution of the sensible”, the regime of conditions of possibility to perceive, think and act in a given social-historical situation.
The”Egalitarianism: Forms, Processes, Comparisons” project has kicked off with an exciting and productive initial week of workshops. During the course of the first week, each participant had the opportunity to present their preliminary project ideas, followed by discussions pertaining to the framework of each project. General discussions were held in regards to how to approach the exploration of “egalitarianism”, and several of the semester’s upcoming events were planned. During the first days, members of the supervisory board were present, as well as other visitors, including members of the Department of Social Anthropology in Bergen. From UiB, attending were Thorvald Sirnes, Annelinn Eriksen, Ruy Jesus Llera Blanes, and Michelle McCarthy, as well as visiting Doctoral Student William Dawley (UCSD) who sat in on a few sessions.
Professor Bruce Kapferer heading a seminar.
A significant part of the week was learning more about everyone’s academic backgrounds, and establishing a good group dynamic in order to generate productive future discussions. We were also fortunate to have the brilliant, Anna Szolucha visiting with for the entire first week.
The ERC-funded Egalitarianism Project hosted by the University of Bergen aims at a multi-dimensional critical approach to the issue of Egalitarianism. The concept of Egalitarianism is extraordinarily broad, as is the no less nebulous ideal of equality, having virtually ontological value in modern Euro-American thought, increasingly so globally.