Amal Eqeiq: Art and Indigenous Performance: A Story of Three Zapatista Muralists

Gustavo Chavéz Pavón (Mexico City), Dyg’ Nojoch (Chiapas) and Janet Calderon (Hidalgo) are three Zapatista muralists who have painted colorful stories of indigenous struggle, global solidarity and communal feminism on the walls of Zapatista caracoles in the Highlands of Chiapas as well as in the streets of México and Latin America. While Chavéz Pavón and Calderon are members of international muralist movements, such as Murales contra muros [Murals against Walls] and Muralismo sin fronteras [Muralism without Borders], respectively, Dyg’ Nojoch has been actively involved in shaping an emerging pan-indigenous Mesoamerican movement of visual artists reclaiming prehispanic temporality and geography.

Combining psychedelic graffiti, graphic design, Mayan languages, symbols, and modes of writing, Dyg’ Nojoch paints murals that narrate contemporary Mayan stories unfolding like codices. In addition to introducing the work of Chavéz Pavón, Calderon and Dyg’ Nojoch, my presentation examines the representation of indigeneity in the murals and their spatial configuration across rural-urban divides and national and colonial borders. Key questions that I will address include: What motifs of global solidarity and communal feminism inform the work of these Zapatista muralists and their decolonial vision? How do Zapatista murals define and create spaces of indigenous urbanity and clandestine politics beyond the caracols in Chiapas? What are the aesthetic features of contemporary experimental Mayan art and how can we read them across disciplines? These questions will be addressed in an artist-audience encuentro format that it enables the sharing of a plurality of critical perspectives and personal reflections from the muralists and the participants of the Academy. In this encuentro, we will collectively consider methods and practices to examine indigenous street art in Chiapas and gain a deeper understanding of the recent history of Zapatista muralism in México and beyond.

Amal Eqeiq is a native Palestinian born in the city of Al-Taybeh in Israel/Palestine. She is Assistant Professor of Arabic Studies and Comparative Literature at Williams College, Massachusetts. Her research interests include: modern Arab literature, popular culture, Palestine studies, feminism(s), performance studies, translation, indigenous studies in the Americas, and literature of the Global South. She is currently completing her manuscript, Indigenous Affinities: A Comparative Study in Mayan and Palestinian Narratives. Amal is also a creative writer and has published a number of short stories and essays in Mada Masr, Jadaliyya and several anthologies, including Being Palestinian (2017) and Min Fami: Arab Feminist Reflections on Identity, Resistance and Space (2014). Her translations of selected poems by Hussein Al-Barghouti (Arabic-English) and Miguel  Ángel Asturias (Spanish-Arabic) appeared in Jadaliyya (2011 & 2017). Amal keeps a Facebook blog called “Diaries of a Hedgehog Feminist” and is currently writing her first novel.


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