The acquisition of new pieces by a museum like the Reina Sofia can be a cumbersome exchange of documents, meetings of advisors and long negotiations between lawyers, or it can be a hooligan, sympathetic and idealistic exchange of letters and communications if the seller it is the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) and the money ends up in a humanitarian organization dedicated to saving migrants at sea like Open Arms.
The latter have just thanked the Zapatistas for choosing them to grant them whatever results from the acquisition by the Madrid museum of four pieces that the EZLN took to Spain on the journey in which they wanted to commemorate, in their own way, the 500 years of the Conquest: doing the journey of the Spaniards in reverse. From the mountains of the Mexican southeast, the Zapatistas explain that the Reina Sofia began the procedures for the acquisition of some pieces made by the indigenous people of Chiapas. The amount, which has not transpired, will end up in Open Arms, they write in a statement that dislodges any art buyer. True to its style, the Zapatista advertisement was a powerful allegation in favor of brotherhood among peoples and of those who work for life. Incidentally, a vacilon and irreverent story emerged from the statement that includes the memory of Almudena Grandes, the Madrid taverns and the Puerta de Alcala. The most delusional paragraphs have to do with how the Zapatistas imagine what the discussion within the Spanish institution must have been like until they made the “incomprehensible” purchase. The response of thanks from Open Arms, last week, indicates that the donation will serve to sustain “a journey that never ends, a journey for a dignified life and the defense of the rights of all human beings without distinction”.
The objects in question are four cedar and mahogany canoes carved and painted with images that represent the memory of the Mayan peoples, the daily life of the indigenous people or the snails of Chiapas, the Zapatista community organizations. To finalize the agreement, the Zapatistas had to solve two problems: “We do not have a legal existence, that is, we are, but we do not exist”, for which they resorted to the friendly and Galician organization Pallasos in Rebellion and demonstrate that the pieces were the property of the EZLN, an authorship confirmed in a document signed on all pages by Subcomandante Moises and Subcomandante Galeano, formerly known as Marcos, who, for more surrealism, also signs “postmortem.”
The story of how some pieces of the Mexican jungle will end up in the museum rooms began in April 2021, with the journey by boat (according to the adjective used by the indigenous people) of the Zapatista Army from the mountains of Chiapas to Spain. The trip was preceded by a position of the Zapatistas antagonistic to that of the Mexican president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who demanded that the King apologize for the excesses of the Conquest. “Neither the Spanish State nor the Church have to apologize to us for anything. We will not echo the fakers who ride on our blood and thus hide that their hands are stained with it”, the Zapatistas said then. In that boat that tried to simulate a reverse conquest of America, there were also four wooden canoes that after their arrival on the coast of Galicia, the Reina Sofia decided to exhibit in the room Another world is possible. The Zapatista communique has little to do with the conventional and convoluted sales documents handled by an institution like the Reina Sofia. In their account of how it was conceived, the Zapatistas point out: “When they were thinking about auctioning off the boats (because we are crazy, yes, but not crazy enough to bring those canoes back) those who work on the Reina Sofia generously offered , acquire the ships as well as other materials”, they explain. Asked by this newspaper about the operation with the Zapatistas, the museum has not yet made any comment.
From there they make an imaginative recreation of the deliberations that, according to them, the museum had to go through to agree to buy the pieces: “I don’t know, I imagine there was some kind of evaluation. Specialists and non-specialists, after overcoming the surprise of analyzing the canoes, their carvings and paintings, had to recommend or discourage the acquisition of these strange artifacts that, despite coming from distant calendars and geographical areas, told an incomplete story. As if the narration began with a ‘there will be a time’ and what follows remains pending. As if what was at stake were not revenge without any justice, As if the past was not the destination of the trip. As if the port of arrival were called future and life (…) for some incomprehensible reason, the museum decided to acquire the pieces”, the Zapatistas speculate in a text that bears the stamp and prose of Marcos.
“Why did you do it? I ignore it. It could have been for showing sympathy for the anachronistic struggle for life (…) whether or not he convinced the rest of the skeptics in the museum about acquiring those pieces or not, I don’t know. Perhaps someone with more pragmatism consoled himself by saying ‘well, you can always store!’ Perhaps someone refuted him ‘Are we going to store the fight for life?’ Then what happened happened: at the Reina Sofia Museum they finally decided to leave the allegorical and real meaning of the canoes pending and sent an economic proposal.” “We would have said yes to any amount. Even if he had told us that we would have to pay the museum, we would have considered it. Fortunately for our economy, the second option did not appear,” says the insurgents’ statement.
“But, although these are times of applications, social networks and pandemics, these lines are worth it as a purpose of one day meeting in non-virtual person and that those who work at the Reina Sofia National Art Museum tell us about the discussions they had (oh, we know it wasn’t, but that’s where the imagination comes in) that Pallasos in rebellion tell us the story they invented about the matter and that Open Arms, Honoring his name, he welcomes us with open arms”. And that together we sit in front of the Guernica of Picasso (…), let’s forget about the selfie then let’s go to the Puerta de Alcala to deposit the flower that the late SupMarcos always kept for Almudena, the one with the name of a warrior and defining surname [Grandes]. From there to the bars, because the fight for life requires eating something, which is not about self-immolation either: it is one thing to fall weak and battered and quite another to do so with a full belly and a happy heart”, he concludes.
Regarding the reasons for choosing Open Arms, the Zapatistas explained that: “We learned that there are people who cannot see an inhuman act without doing something to try to remedy or mitigate it. And it turns out that, from the mountains of the Mexican southeast, we looked at boats that left the immobility of docks and tourist routes, and launched themselves to rescue those who were shipwrecked in European seas. We know that there are several organizations, groups and collectives that carry out this work, but we found out about Open Arms because of the demands they had, and have, from European governments that accuse them of carrying out humanitarian acts!”
On this subject, Oscar Camps, founder of Open Arms, explained in another statement that they feel very moved and honored by this fraternal gesture: “It is a solidarity hug that, as one of their carved canoes says, is given between people who fight for life, for nature and humanity. A hug from the Lacandona Jungle to the Mediterranean, from the land of the rebellious, to the sea of the rebellious”, he says in another text loaded with images and fraternal winks. In short, a peculiar epistolary exchange that responds to the Zapatista maxim that hugs, kisses and insults should be given in person.
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Source: EL PAIS