EZLN’s Autonomous Intergalactic Space Program
To tell this story I would probably have to go back to my early childhood. I was 5 when this mysterious guy wearing a ski mask and smoking a pipe took over the news channels. I didn’t get what was happening, but I could tell adults were divided about him …
To tell this story I would probably have to go back to my early childhood. I was 5 when this mysterious guy wearing a ski mask and smoking a pipe took over the news channels. I didn’t get what was happening, but I could tell adults were divided about him and his ideals, something was brewing in Mexico. It’s been 25 years, and as I walk the halls of the Queens Museum in New York City I bumped into a familiar face, or rather a familiar mask.
I could see the symbols of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) all around the walls of the museum, the little masked dolls created by Mexican artisans, and in the middle of the room: a corn shaped spaceship. The piece’s name is Autonomous InterGalactic Space Program. The artist is Rigo 23.
Rigo 23’s story with the Zapatist movement starts in 2009. The Zapatists communities and over 140 organizations have gathered to celebrate the 15th Anniversary of the EZLN. It is the first ever Global Festival of Dignified Rage. A rage that according to Subcomandante Marcos (the masked man from my childhood memories) comes from “one system, capitalism, which destroys dignity above all.” The surrounding theme for this event is Another World, Another Path which underscores EZLN’s commitment to Mayan conceptions of the cosmos.
Another World, Another Path. These words fascinated Rigo 23 so much, that he decided to travel to Chiapas and ask one of the Zapatista groups to imagine what a Zapatista spaceship might look like. The result is now hanging from the ceiling of the Queens Museum in Flushing Meadows.
Autonomous InterGalactic Space Program is much more than a model of corn shaped spaceship, it’s a vision of the future, a representation of the ideal world dreamed by the EZLN. Heavily based on mayan cosmology, this utopian world, where corn is the fuel for life and revolution, the community lives in peace; gender and class equality are the norm: everyone works for the benefit of the community; and the community thrives towards a common goal: InterGalactic equality.
Rigo 23’s work, along with the artisans’, is impressive and nostalgic. It represents the people in these communities that are holding on to this dream and ideal of an egalitarian capital free world. And even if it seems utopian, the exhibition really emphasizes the importance of keeping the dream alive, of remembering the values of it. Maybe the EZLN’s history is not as romantic and clean as we wished it was, but Rigo 23’s work makes us remember that behind this movement there is an idea, an idea of a better Mexico and a better world.
Take a look at some of my bad quality footage of the piece below or visit the exhibition at the Queens Museum, showing until August 18.
Click on the links to see video clips of the exhibition: