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Protest Graffiti Mexico: Oaxaca by Louis…

Protest Graffiti Mexico: Oaxaca (edition 2009)

by Louis E.V. Nevaer, Lila Downs (Introduction)

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Unlike in other cities where graffiti is recognised by many as a form of public art, in Oaxaca, Mexico, graffiti became a way of achieving social justice. This text is a collection of photographs of the graffiti taken by Oaxaca resident Elaine Sendyk during the summer of 2007.
Title:Protest Graffiti Mexico: Oaxaca
Authors:Louis E.V. Nevaer
Other authors:Lila Downs (Introduction)
Info:Mark Batty Publisher (2009), Hardcover, 160 pages
Collections:Your library

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Protest Graffiti Mexico: Oaxaca by Louis E. V. Nevaer


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This book is a quick read, as it is probably 75% images, but the text is informative and interesting. It describes the political unrest in Oaxaca in the early 2000s centered around the annual teachers strike and a repressive governor, examining the role that political street art and graffiti played in the conflict. I dug it. Seems like the better books I've read lately have been translated Latin American fiction or something like this (even a very good graphic novel). ( )
  bibliosk8er | Aug 16, 2018 |
Organizers often forget the importance of the imagination. Though cadre may be able to articulate points in Capital, it’s the masses who dream for brighter futures for their children that provide the numbers movements need to succeed. And when things look difficult, the imagination helps keep participants focused. One example of this observation was the protest effort in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Teachers in Oaxaca have been involved in demonstrations against Governor Ulises Ruiz Ortiz for several years. Most times, these conflicts centered on pay disputes. Sadly, Mexico has fights over federal and state budget priorities as anywhere else. However, the Oaxaca kerfuffle was just one of many struggles in a nation with many powerful social movements, until more than 20 protesters, including a white American, Brad Will, were killed in a protracted conflict in 2006.

Louis E. V. Nevaer and the late photographer Elaine Sendyk’s Protest Graffiti Mexico: Oaxaca is a beautifully illustrated book that tells the story of the movement, its root causes and the creative forms of resistance the quest for justice took, and takes today.

During the uprising, in which demonstrators took over public offices, media and other institutions in Oaxaca, the city was peppered with graffiti against Ruiz and his surrogates, but more importantly with exhilarating silhouettes and encouragements to continue the rebellion. One passage in the book compares this sort of artistry to teaching literally in the Aristotelian vein, where the teacher is a scribe and the artist serves the same mission. Lofty though such claims may be, there is no discounting the emotional heft of the artwork, or what it meant to the Oaxaca unrest. Thousands rallied in what was ultimately an unsuccessful bid to oust Ruiz from office, but the ways in which art was used are stunning. Nevaer calls this presentation a dialog of rage.

How such achingly gorgeous art is the façade for a long history of governmental misdeeds and the disenfranchisement it birthed is a theme touched on frequently throughout the weighty chapters encircling the images herein. In addition, this book is particularly helpful in describing a phenomenon that occurs almost universally during any mass movement: ploys by the state and business to get back to ‘normal’ by blunting civil disobedience in the name of commerce. Sick as that may seem, it happens often, and Nevaer explores how Mexican activists fought to keep their issues in the public consciousness, art being just one of those tools.

Sendyk’s simply ravishing photography presents the furious faces and joyous smiles dripping to the pavement which once pocked Oaxacan streets. Directly and indirectly, these visuals afford glances at the discontent. Similarly, the copy here gives breathless firsthand accounts of the heady early days of the protests. From moments of station takeovers to discussions on the role of women in the struggle, Protest Graffiti Mexico is a respectable documentary of a movement far deeper than the paint on walls. Those curious in more extensive analysis in tactics the movement used and ways it succeeded and failed might be interested in books like Teaching Rebellion: Stories from the Grassroots Mobilization in Oaxaca. However, Protest Graffiti Mexico is bound to give anyone a good start on learning about the history and endeavors.

Reviewed by Ernesto Aguilar ( )
  PoliticalMediaReview | Aug 4, 2009 |
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Unlike in other cities where graffiti is recognised by many as a form of public art, in Oaxaca, Mexico, graffiti became a way of achieving social justice. This text is a collection of photographs of the graffiti taken by Oaxaca resident Elaine Sendyk during the summer of 2007.

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