Peana Projects, Monterrey, Mexico.
Curated by Ana Perez Escoto
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.”
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.
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.
(Presented as part of Persona | Residency Exchange Program with the support Rockefeller Brothers Fund)