press release

SAN FRANCISCO-- December 15, 2005— Yerba Buena Center for the Arts is pleased to present Black Panther Rank and File, a bold and powerful exhibition coinciding with the 40th anniversary of the Black Panther Party’s founding in Oakland, California. The Black Panther Rank and File exhibition brings together rare artifacts, documentary photography and film, as well as contemporary art from around the world that reflects upon the legacy of the Black Panther Party, the Black Power movement, and concerns for revolutionary political and social change. The exhibition is part of YBCA’s Risk and Response series, one of the “big ideas” that guide the Center’s programming for the 05-06 season. The artists in our Risk and Response series create work that investigates the current state of affairs around the world and in many cases, is a response to unique and challenging social and political climates.

“The Black Panther Rank and File exhibition reflects YBCA’s ongoing commitment to highlighting the Bay Area’s significant impact on world art and politics. The struggle for social justice that characterized the turbulent 60s, is still prevalent today, and continues to be an inspiration for artmaking. This project, which brings together art and artifacts, also demonstrates how contemporary art plays a role in civic life, and provides positive impact beyond the conventional confines of museum or gallery settings,” says René de Guzman, visual arts curator for YBCA.

Co-curated by René de Guzman, and independent curator, Claude Simard, Black Panther Rank and File includes a wide selection of work by international artists. One component of the exhibition examines the key role that visual art and culture plays in articulating radical possibilities, and draws poetic connections between the art being made today and the climate of struggle for social justice of the late 60s and early 70s. Highlights include works by well-known artists such as Andy Warhol, Joseph Beuys, Margaret Bourke-White, Kerry James Marshall, Lawrence Weiner, Carrie Mae Weems and David Hammons in addition to emerging and mid-career artists such as John Bankston, Radcliffe Bailey, Sam Durant, Nick Cave, Ellen Gallagher, Arthur Jafa, Daniel J. Martinez, Coco Fusco and Roberto Visani, among many others. This exhibition is also a West Coast debut for legendary artisan Paa Joe whose works expands the subject matter of the show to related themes of post-colonial Africa and the African diaspora. Paa Joe’s sculptures are masterfully crafted and emotionally wrenching coffins in the form of historic slave fortresses of Ghana’s Gold Coast.

Black Panther Rank and File is also inspired by Black Panther historian, Bill Jennings, Director of It’s About Time, the Panther’s alumni organization. Through Jennings’ invaluable guidance, the exhibit highlights the significant contributions of rank and file Party members, and provides an opportunity to consider the associations between contemporary art and historical artifacts. Black Panther Rank and File includes rarely seen footage of the Panthers, courtesy of Newsreel Films, along with other early cinema covering the rise and key events surrounding one of America’s most compelling revolutionary parties. Black Panther Rank and File brings together for the first time the pioneering photography of Pirkle Jones and Ruth Marion-Baruch; Stephen Shames; former Black Panther, Ducho Dennis; and Ilka Hartmann that reveal public events and private moments of the Party. From the collection of It’s About Time, the Center will present a significant display of The Black Panther, the party’s official newspaper, through which audiences will see an unvarnished view of the Panther’s goals, and accounts of the life-and-death struggles of the day. These papers also will show a comprehensive collection of artwork by Emory Douglas, the former Panther Minister of Culture, whose raw and direct illustrations graphically defined the liberating aspirations of the party and the era.

Black Party Rank and File will be accompanied by substantial public programs and film screenings, and is slated to travel to other museum venues in North America and Europe.


Black Panther Rank and File
Kuratoren: Rene de Guzman, Claude Simard

mit Radcliffe Bailey, John Bankston, Ruth Marion-Baruch, Joseph Beuys, Margaret Bourke-White, Michael Britto, Elizabeth Catlett, Nick Cave, Emory Douglas, Ducho Dennis, Sam Durant, Phil Frost, Coco Fusco, Ellen Gallagher, Leon Golub, Tony Gray, Emile Guebehi, David Hammons, Ilka Hartmann, Barkley L. Hendricks, Lonnie Bradley Holley, Satch Hoyt, Jeff Hull, It’s About Time, Arthur Jafa, Paa Joe, Pirkle Jones, Liz Magor, Kerry James Marshall, Daniel J. Martinez, Chris McNair, Zwelethu Mthethwa, Newsreel Films, Refa 1, Steve Jones & Toons, Ross Rudel, Jonathan Seliger, Paul Sequeira, Stephen Shames, Jeff Sonhouse, Hank Willis Thomas, Carlos Vega, Roberto Visani, Andy Warhol, Carrie Mae Weems, Lawrence Weiner, u.a.