Elaine Sendyk died in 2007 but with this superb book PROTEST GRAFFITI MEXICO OAXACA she left behind an important political and artistic document that will surely become a standard against which all other books about the human response to the suppression that begets revolution must be judged. This book is a pinnacle of graphic art design, a treasure of information about a subject known by too few in the world, and a fascinating reading and visual excursion through an important period of time in Mexico.
Sendyk was present with her camera when the October 2006 incident of police firing on a crowd of protesters who were railing against the lack of right to an education. The particular place: Oaxaca, Mexico. Those responsible for the reaction of the people to the deprivation of education were women, primarily teachers struggling against insurmountable odds to speak out against the government's closing of schools. With paint and stick they wrote on the walls of the city, not to vandalize as some graffiti is often interpreted, but to use their only means of spreading objection and truth to their people and the world. This book captures the images they created, images often incorporating religious symbols as well as caricatures of the leading political leaders responsible for the outrage. It also shares interviews with some of the teachers and powerful commentary by the book's author Louis E. V. Nevaer.
Opening this important volume is an introduction by Lila Downs who shares the atmosphere and crushed dreams as well as the lasting spirit of hope that accompanied the debacle this book uses as focus. Superimposed on some of the images of the walls of comment are quotations such as 'Democracy is exhilarating, but it is also fraught with the natural anxiety that accompanies the unknown.' and 'Knowledge, in human beings, is not passed on from generation to generation through our genes, but must be learned by each person, one by one.'
At the end of the book are tributes to the now deceased Elaine Sendyk, among which is the following statement by Sendyk's nephew: 'This is what stands behind the camera that shot the photos you will find in this book. An eye with the ability to capture the results of individuals taking action - fulfilling responsibility. Cookie found that beauty amidst the chaos and ugliness of revolution. Do yourself a great service, and use these images to motivate you to engage in that same beauty, on whatever level that you can afford. That's why Cookie took them.' This is a book that should be part of every school library as well as in the homes and minds of everyone who cares about social injustice. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, March 09
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About the reviewer
Grady Harp (gradyharp)
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
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On October 27 2006, when Mexican police opened fire on a crowd of protesters in the city of Oaxaca, killing three people, including American journalist Brad Roland Will, the world became aware of a social conflict that at its core was about the right to an education. Within hours of these shootings, graffiti calling the regions governor a murderer was sprayed throughout the city. Unlike in other cities where graffiti is recognized as a form of public art, in Oaxaca, graffiti became a way of achieving social justice through community organization. And because teachers in Mexico are primarily women, the graffiti is very much inspired and made by women. Shot by Elaine Sendyk in 2007, the photographs in this book depict oppression, empowerment and the messages of struggle and revolt.