The Art that is Neither Seen nor Heard
THE ART THAT IS NEITHER SEEN NOR HEARD.
(Note: the following are the comments made by Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés to mark the conclusion of the Zapatista’s contribution to the CompArte, in the Caracol of Oventik, on July 29, 2016. The threat of rain and the pressure of time did not allow for the compañero to fully develop some of his points and there were others that he was unable to touch on at all. Here we present the original version that he was going to give. In his voice, our Zapatista word).
THE ZAPATISTA ARMY FOR NATIONAL LIBERATION
July 29, 2016.
Artists of Mexico and the world:
Sisters, brothers, and hermanoas:
For us, Zapatistas, art is studied by creating many imaginations, reading the gaze, studying in listening, and practicing.
It is by putting it into practice, that is, by doing it, that you will begin to see the result of the science and the art of imagination – the art of creativity.
There is some science and art that is needed immediately, the kind that helps us imagine how to do it.
There can be medium term science and art, and there is long term science and art that improves over the course of time.
For example: To even make something tiny that will contribute to the new world requires that we involve ourselves profoundly in the science and art of imagination, in the gaze, in listening and in creativity, patience, and attention. It requires that we think about how to move forward while building and many other things that must be taken into account.
Because what we want, or what we think about, is a new world, a new system. We don’t want a copy of what we have, we don’t want to improve it a little bit. This is a problem, we say, because there is no book or manual that explains how to create this new world. This book or manual hasn’t been written yet, it is still in the heads of those with imagination, in the eyes that are ready to gaze at the new world that they want to see, in the ears that are attentive in order to hear the new world that they want.
This requires a lot of wisdom and intelligence, a good understanding of many words and thoughts.
We say that it works like this because this is how the development of our autonomy has been and will continue to be.
It was built by thousands of Zapatista men and women, with science and art, and for now it can be seen in the 5 zones of the caracoles.
The art that we are showing you, our compañeras and compañeros, had a crude birth, it emerged from the heads of those women and men who themselves decided how to present it to you, [it is] about how they have worked as Zapatistas and autonomous people, with their resistance and their rebellious ways.
The entire process was a chain of art – from the thinking about what they would present, whether it would be a dance number, song, poetry, sculpture, theater, or pottery, to the words, the ideas about how they would get from place to place, then where they were going to get the money for their rehearsal and performances, because they are collectives from the community, the region, the municipalities and the zone.
There were three rounds of selection. For the first round, the people got together in their regions; then the regions met as autonomous municipalities for the second selection; and the municipalities met in zones for the final round.
Their preparations took months.
For the communities of thousands of Zapatista men and women, it was another iteration of what we are, but in a different form, it didn’t happen through conversation or blah blah blah, but through the technique of Art, and everyone participated – children, teenagers, fathers, mothers, and grandparents.
In artistic form, in the art form of the Zapatista compañer@s, they were practicing their resistance and rebellion, their autonomous government of the Junta de Buen Gobierno, their MAREZ (Zapatista Autonomous Municipalities in Rebellion), their local authorities (comisariadas, comisariados, agentas, and agentes), their autonomous health systems, their autonomous education system, their autonomous radio stations, their 7 principles of lead by obeying in their new system of autonomous government, their democracy as communities, their justice, their freedom, their defense of mother earth, and their collective work on mother earth. This will all be the basis on which new generations of young women and young men will be formed, the basis for the Zapatista future.
This is what we presented to you, compañeras and compañeros of the national and international Sixth from Mexico and the world; only a small portion of the compañer@s that were going to participate actually participated. One day we will present the rest to you, but right now there isn’t time, because if we had all come, it would have taken over a month to do all of our presentations, and so that means that there is also an art and a science to how we planned to do a one-day presentation. Because the most marvelous of all of the arts is collective mutual support.
Compañeras and compañeros from the National and International Sixth.
Sisters and brothers of Mexico and the world.
The storm and the hydra of monstrous capitalism wants to prevent us from seeing one another, but through our great effort we are seeing one another here and now.
The compañeras and compañeros from the thousands of Zapatista bases of support for the Zapatista Army for National Liberation want to show you their art.
You have seen one part here and in other caracoles you could see other parts. Because more than two thousand artists have been selected and there were even more who didn’t come, not because they didn’t make it through the selection process, but because we didn’t have the money to transport thousands of compañera and compañero artists.
Our compañera and compañero artists aren’t professional artists, but rather their profession is what we call “Everythingologist [Todólogo]” because they are carpenters, masons, shop keepers, they work the land, are radio hosts, milicianos and milicianas, insurgentas and insurgents, autonomous authorities, teachers at the Zapatista little school, health and education promoters, and they still find the time to be artists.
They are true artists in the art of constructing a new system of governance, the autonomy where the people command and the government obeys.
It is an art that you can see, study, and that exists in practice, that you can know through its sharing.
But the compañeras and compañeros also make other art that you don’t know about, that isn’t disclosed in any press releases.
It is the art of solidarity, the support for the people who struggle.
Because the other art and science that the compañera and compañero Zapatista bases of support practice is their support for the struggle of the teachers movement.
You did not see this science and art, but the way it was delivered; the food support was like the art of a hornet’s nest, but there was also an art and science that preceded this.
This is what happened:
We realized that we needed to support this struggle by the teachers who are resisting the capitalist hydra and storm, which we have been talking about for a year.
So then we figured out how much support we were able to give. First we used our word to support them, to say that their struggle is a just one.
Then we tried to figure out how to support the resistance at the sites where they were putting up roadblocks and sit-ins and we realized that we could support them by providing food.
Then we assessed how much support we could send them, and first, how our compañeras and compañeros would respond if we supported them with food from the little that we have as a result of our collective labors.
We figured out how, for example, the food support could work—the delivery, the bags, and all of that. But what you don’t see is the organization of the food collection community by community, the division of how much each community was supposed to provide, figuring out how many tons they were going to be able to get together so that they could figure out how they were going to transport it. Then there was the timing, because the news was saying that the blockades were still there, and then that the teachers were going to take them down to avoid being forcefully evicted because what they were doing was really hurting the rich, and this put a lot of pressure on us because the food that we collected would spoil if there wasn’t any place to take it to.
They had meetings everywhere in order to come to an agreement, because all of the compañer@s said that the support that we needed to give to the teachers’ movement was just and necessary.
So they started to do the math (i.e division), the accounts as we say, say of how much each zone, MAREZ, region, and community was responsible for. There were a few zones where the commissions failed to meet their goal, they didn’t fail in a bad way, but in a good way, because they had reported that their commission would provided 2 tons of food and when the time came they actually provided 7 tons more than they had promised, which was the case with the Zapatista bases of support in the North Zone of Chiapas, from the caracol of Roberto Barrios. And so, well, resolving the problem was Art, because no one had even imagined that they could provide 9 tons. We only had a 3-ton truck.
The compañeras’ work is really art, because they were asked how long it will take them to have 100 thousand tostadas ready – how could they calculate that when the corn is still on the cob?
Well the compañeras responded that the tostadas would be ready on x day at x time. Because they know how many hours it takes to cook the corn, and how many tostadas you can get from a kilo of corn.
And the compañeras even add flavor to the tostadas, from a little bit of beans, and salt, because they know that the tostadas are to support the teachers at the sit-ins and in resistance.
And that is how they did it and now it is done, but you can’t see it because it is already in people’s stomachs, or it has become fertilizer because the companer@ teachers have already consumed it.
Collective work, the common, made it so that they could move things easily, from one hand to another, others moved things on horses, others by foot and on their back, others by car.
Thanks to the collective work of the compañeras and compañeros.
It was all a mathematic calculation, from beginning to end.
All of this, it is all an expenditure, and the great majority is from collective work, communities, regions, autonomous municipalities. It is the real fruit of our work as organized communities of men and women.
But you didn’t see any of this and you wouldn’t know about it if we didn’t tell you about it, and it’s all the work of our Zapatista compañera and compañero bases of support, in order to show that we care about a people who struggles with resistance.
Why do we do this? Well, because we know and understand what it is to resist in struggle and how much work it takes to maintain a struggle in resistance.
Figuring out how to provide this support is an art of imagination by the Zapatista communities. The “resistance” of the compañeras and compañeros has gone on for 22 years, and that’s a lot of experience and is a great building block solidarity. It is the demonstration of collectivity. For 22 years we Zapatistas have been in resistance and rebellion against capitalism, and we’ve had, for 22 years, a new system of governing ourselves where the people command and the government obeys.
There are those who think that we should go out and struggle for the teachers. But if they think that way, then they haven’t understood anything at all. Because that would mean that that I want someone to come and struggle for me. We Zapatista men and women don’t ask for anyone to come and struggle for us. Each person must struggle, and we should mutually support one another, but that support cannot replace each person’s struggle. Whoever struggles has the right to decide the direction of their path and with whom they walk that path. If others insert themselves, then they are no longer supporting that struggle, but supplanting it. Support is respect, not trying to direct or command. Just as we have understood that no one is going to give us what we need to eat if we don’t work for it ourselves – it’s the same thing. No one is going to liberate us except for ourselves.
That is how we peoples of Mexico and the world organize ourselves, how we struggle in the world where we are in order to change it, as workers, teachers, peasants, all kinds of workers, we don’t hold out hope that someone is going to come and struggle for us.
This is how we already live, and they [the bad government] only come to try to manipulate us, to fool us and to do the all of the things they do to us.
Art, brothers and sisters, compañeras and compañeros, is very important, because it is what provides us with an illustration of something new in life, something that illustrates something very different in real life—it doesn’t lie.
Art is so powerful because it is already real life in the communities where the people command and the government obeys, thanks to the art of the imagination and the knowledge of how to create a new society, how to create a life in common. Our art shows that it is possible to create another form of governing, one that is totally different, that it is possible to create another life working in common to benefit the community itself.
This makes me think of the deceased Subcomandante Insurgente Marcos, who often asked us questions when we were building a little house, there in the jungle, with Comandante Tacho. The deceased asked us, “These crossbeams, what are they for? Can you explain to me scientifically what they are for? And we were about to answer, when he hit us with another question, “Is it science, or is it custom?” Comandante Tacho and I looked at each other, and since he was in charge of the construction it was up to him to respond, “Well, I learned from my father, and my father learned from my grandfather, and so on,” said Comandante Tacho. The deceased responded, “Ah, well then it’s custom, and it’s not based on a scientific study.” So he explained to us why the sciences and the arts are so important. And now we are coming to understand this. But wait, I’ll tell you what the deceased scribbled down or wrote to us from the place where he now lives six feet under; we’re going to ask him to send it to us and we are going to publish it, those of us who are still alive here where he had been living before. So compañeras and compañeros, sisters and brothers. We Zapatistas think that now more than ever, we need ART, ORIGINARY PEOPLES, AND THE SCIENTISTS in order to give birth to a new world.
So compañera and compañero artists from the National and International Sixth, get involved in the work of art with a lot of enthusiasm.
Join us, brothers and sisters of Mexico and the world, in dreaming of an art where the people command, for their own good and the good of the people themselves.
From the mountains of Southeastern Mexico.
Subcomandante Insurgente Moisés.
Mexico, July 29, 2016.
Song, “The Capacity of Women”. Lyrics, music, and choreography from the young, female and musical Zapatista group “Dignity and Resistance,” bases of support from the Altos Zone of Chiapas. When they performed in Oventik, on June 29 in the afternoon, the sound system failed and it made them a little bit sad. And so on June 30, in CIDECI, SubMoy asked the compañero musicians Panteón Rococó and Oscar Chávez to stop for a minute and they gave up a few minutes of their time (Thank you Don Óscar, thank you Panteones). The compañeras were able to present what they had been preparing for more than 5 months. When they finished they reported back to SupMoy. “We’re back,” they said. SupMoy said, “How did it go?” and they said, “we won.” SupMoy didn’t say anything but he was definitely thinking,” “All in all, 500 years is a short time, but I never thought that I would get to hear this.” They continued, “We felt a little bad because the people were asking for another. A lot of people were yelling ‘One more! One more!’ but we didn’t know another one. It took us a long time just to make this one. If they want another one, they are going to have to wait a another six months.” SubMoy asked, “And so what did you do?” “We left the stage quickly and hid ourselves among the compañeros.” That’s what they said and then they went to the dance floor for the Panteones’ ska.
Dance number: “The Dance of the collective work of Maize.” Choreography by the Zapatista bases of support of the Altos Zone in Chiapas. This is the version that they presented during the selection process. For the presentation on July 29 in Oventik they added a few more things, as those who were there got to see. Maybe in the compa media they have a video of July 29 in Oventik.
Poetry: “When the Horizon looks to tomorrow.” Written by a young Zapatista base of support from the Altos Zone in Chiapas. This is the version that he presented in the selection process. When he presented it, he was told that there would be a lot of people there, but not to get nervous. “Keep your eyes on your notebook and don’t look up,” they recommended. He said that he wasn’t scared but he was confused about one thing. “What is it?” they asked him. He said, “I don’t know if you are supposed to say ‘poem’ or ‘poetry’. And so we ask you for a reply to his question.