Friday, October 24, 2008

All Power to the People, Graphics of the Black Panther Party, SNAP, October 23 - November 29, 2008

As the Western Canadian Premiere of All Power to the People, the exhibit brings in archival news prints and posters from the 1966 - 1974 period of the Black Panther Party and its community newspaper. Bold black, white, and red news prints on yellowing frayed news papers display the bold iconic graphics that were mass produced and distributed as an alternative source of news and information. From the quote pulled by exhibition organizers Heather Haynes and Izida Zorde, “The community (was) the museum for our artwork. Some people saw art for the first time when they saw my posters. Some joined the party, some got inspired to make art too.” (Emory Douglas, Minister of Culture, Black Panther Party).

Through the front page covers and center spreads that resemble a manifesto layout more than a standard newspaper layout, the focus of their community newspaper was to rally around the power of the people and to decry the injustice to their fellow marginalized men. Very few women appear besides Angela Davis and a few mother-figures, as the fight of the Black Panther party was to mobilize the black male in counter to the white male, and that leaves little room for much else. Expanded social and historical context of the prints are desired to launch them beyond the purely aesthetic and into their political domain and print’s variability for mass production, but if inclined, do your own research and see the show for all that it’s worth.

Image credit: Emory Douglas, "They Bled Your Mama" Black Panther Newspaper. Offset print, 1971, Oakland, California. 28436 / 28437

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