Vienna hosted the “George Jackson in the Sun of Palestine” exhibition in October.
The festival is dedicated to the political prisoner, revolutionist and member of the Black Panther Party, George L. Jackson
Luiza Krantz an Iraqi woman in Vienna wrote the article ICONS OF SOLIDARITY: The travels of the “George Jackson in the Sun of Palestine” exhibition in Vienna, Austria about the exhibition and about George Jackson in which she said:
George L. Jackson is an immortal source of inspiration and a guiding figure for global anti-colonial resistance in all its widespread but politically close connections.
A traveling exhibition curated by Prof. Greg Thomas (Tufts University, USA), “George Jackson in the Sun of Palestine” visually tells the story of one of the world’s most important political prisoners and his transnational linking of the Black and Palestinian liberation movements.
The exhibition premiered in October 2015 at the Abu Jihad Museum for Political Prisoner Affairs in Abu Dis, located on the campus of Al Quds University. Later renditions were hosted at the African Community Hall in the Old City of Jerusalem, Khashabi Theatre in Haifa, and the 50th Anniversary Conference of the Black Panther Party at the Oakland Museum in California — besides an exhibition event at Liwan Café in the Old City of Nazareth and supporting lectures at Birzeit, Bethlehem, and An-Najah National Universities as well as the Educational Bookshop in East Jerusalem.
Now, for the first time in Europe, the project was hosted by Spektakel Wien along with AfriPoint in Vienna, Austria. The exhibit was on display at Spektakel from October 6 through October 25, 2017.
The arrival of the artwork – an embodiment of concrete, practiced solidarity against various forms of settler colonialism and its carceral structures – was accompanied by a passionately organized and multifaceted festival between October 6 through October 10, 2017.
Discussions, music, cinema, poetry, and guided walks through the exhibition formed a program around love, revolution, and resistance, uncompromisingly defying all of their more romantic, bourgeois, hash-tagged, or co-opted misconceptions.
The exhibition contents include drawings, paintings, woodcut prints, prison letters, book covers of Jackson’s writings, Black Panther newspaper editions, martyr stencils, poetry and graffiti.
They introduce visitors to Jackson’s moral and political convictions as well as his intellectual and revolutionary activities during his captivity in San Quentin and Soledad Prisons. Palestinian resistance poetry has played an important role for Black people across the ocean — all because of or via George Jackson, “the enemy of all enemies of the sun!”
After Jackson’s assassination by white prison guards on August 21, 1971, an inventory of his small cell disclosed a handwritten copy of Samih al-Qasim’s poem “Enemy of the Sun” — in addition to more than 99 books from Jackson’s contraband-library. His political party, the Black Panther Party, shared this poem through their newspaper, The Black Panther, believing that George Jackson was the author.
The situation of living in incarceration and under a racist settler-colonialist regime sounded uncannily similar to the conditions of Black people in the U.S. Greg Thomas succeeded in creating spaces of collective engagement through artistic skills of narration, deeply grounded historical knowledge and literary-political poetry, all of which expressed a metaphysical connection between two oppressed peoples. A syntax of solidarity emerged which produced inspired exchanges between visitors from the African diaspora in Europe and various African countries such as Algeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Gambia, Ghana as well as Afghanistan, Austria, Germany, the Golan Heights, Iraq, Ireland, Kashmir, Palestine, Syria, USA, Venezuela, etc.
The program also highlighted legendary examples of revolutionary Pan-African cinema by screening works by Sarah Maldoror and Haile Gerima. This film night was preceded by a Hip-Hop music event at DJ Takeondoe’s Deep Soul Records featuring emcees from Algeria, Lebanon, Venezuela and Palestine.
There, the Maghrebian rhymes of Diaz (MBS) from Algiers met punchlines in Arabic and English by Asifeh Asifeh (or Stormtrap) from Ramallah; Lebanese flows by Rezurec, and Venezuelan rapping as well.
The third day of the festival proceeded under the banner “Love – Poems – Weapons of Liberation.” That title was inspired by the French literary outlaw Jean Genet who described Jackson’s Soledad Brother book as a “striking poem of love and of combat” and, alternatively, “both a weapon of liberation and a love poem.” This poetic event offered a deeper immersion into resistance poetry with multilingual and polyphonic readings of poems and texts by Audre Lorde, Mahmood Darwish, George L. Jackson, Suheir Hammad, Assata Shakur, Ahmed Matar, Kateb Yacine, and many more.
Then, at the close of one phase of the exhibition-festival, another, surprise collaboration ensued with local artists. A “sound performance” by the Austrian collective Jakits/Hofer/Jägersberger was placed in dialogue with the exhibition materials at Spektakel. Their “By Any Means Necessary” performance showcases a reading of Jackson’s prison letters in German along with recorded statements by the literary great James Baldwin as well as Huey P. Newton, the founder of the Black Panther Party in North America.
On October 10th, the exhibition was extended to its second venue, AfriPoint, a large community center of the African diaspora in Vienna, where “George Jackson in the Sun of Palestine” will be on display until December 2017. Here, the opening was celebrated with a radio show broadcasted on Radio Afrika TV International. Intense discussions between Greg Thomas and the host Alexis Nshimyimana Neuberg as well as the audience revolved around the topic “George Jackson, the Black Panther, Pan-Africanism and Palestine.”
“The relation between George Jackson and Palestine evolves from profound, radical kinship and revolutionary identification,” said Thomas.
This solidarity and political proximity between the Black Panther Party and Palestinian resistance reached beyond two oppressed peoples. An exhibition that knows how to defeat the imperial fictional divide between “North” Africa and “sub-Saharan” Africa has at the same time enabled a concrete social practice of solidarity with political prisoners and prisoners of war worldwide in both the past and the present.
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