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Photo: The Raws

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Sangre Yanga
Peana Projects, Monterrey, Mexico.
Curated by Ana Perez Escoto

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Gaspar Yanga was a member of Gabon’s royal family. He was captured, kidnapped, and sent as a slave to New Spain, the territory now known as Mexico. In 1570, Yanga and a group of slaves escaped to the Veracruz highlands where they founded a Maroon settlement from which they resisted attacks from the Spanish in 1609. Around 1618, he fought against the colonial government for the Maroons’ right to self-govern. He is known as the “San Lorenzo de los Negros” and some academics call him “The First Liberator of the Americas.”

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In Mexico, the history and struggles of the Afro-descendent population has been ignored and erased from official history. This work refers to the Black population’s plight from lacking recognition as a minoritized group by the Government. The majority have lived isolated in the Pacific coastal region of Oaxaca since their ancestors were brought as slaves from Africa in the 16th century.

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Six Mexicans of different generations take turns holding up a sculpture made from steel safety spikes used in the construction of fences. I remain standing surrounded by the safety spikes and unable to move.

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(Presented as part of Persona | Residency Exchange Program with the support Rockefeller Brothers Fund)