Zapata lives and the fight goes on and on

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Photographs by Rafael Doníz

Cultural Space Aquí estuvo Zapata 

Moctezuma Plaza, Matamoros No. 20, Col. Centro. Cuernavaca, Morelos.
Opening Friday, November 27th, 2015, 19:00.

Rafael Doníz’s work as a photographer is influenced to a great extent by his eagerness for researching and documenting Mexican photography. Those who know him know of his great archive of photographs, negatives and postcards. Through this archive it is possible to know about the Mexican Revolution, the Porfiriato, the empire, and the early years of modern Mexico. This collection has been built during years of research by Master Doníz, who with patience and love has been developing this historiographic work in his quest for knowing and understanding more about his two great passions : photography, and the history of our country. In these photographic archives coexist presidents, trade union leaders, emperors, middle class people, indigenous people, landscapes, monuments, soldiers, revolutionaries; heroes and warlords, artists and craftsmen coexist.

It is from the immersion in this work -parallel to his work as a photographer- that Rafael Doníz can see the timeline of the photographed subject, the transformation from person to icon, from peasant to emblem. In his constant travel around the country (as a photographer and as a traveler) Rafael Doníz  has realized the permanence and constant transformation of these historical images. It is not uncommon to find the image of Emiliano Zapata in an Oaxacan market, in a demonstration in Mexico City or in the most remote village of the Lacandona jungle. This is why in the most recent exhibition of Rafael Doníz he raises a reflection on the figure and image of Emiliano Zapata, a peasant from Morelos who became the leader of one of the most dignified, strong and respected rebellions during the Mexican Revolution, and who was killed for treason at the end of this war.

In this photographic series the work of Rafael Doníz invites and offers us to review the iconic trajectory of a figure who refused to become a statue of the pantheon of the institutionalized revolution, to get off and walk alongside the most humble people in their neighborhoods and districts; in the villages and mountains, in parades and strikes. In the photographs of this series we can see how an image refuses to become an institutional symbol of an archetype, a figure of the militant altars of the everyday life fighting for life, education, water, land and dignity.

If there is one thing we can learn from this semiotic lesson, it is that every time a man or woman dies in the fight against bad governance and tyranny, by burying them, seeds of rebellion are being sown. That’s why as long as Zapata lives, the fight goes on and on.

The exhibition is presented in the cultural space of Hotel Moctezuma; which was chosen by Emiliano Zapata as its headquarters during the first part of the Mexican Revolution; then it became the headquarters of the Southern Liberation Army. Some of Zapata’s best-known photographs around the world were taken here. These photographs went out to become murals, banners, blankets, graffiti, canvases and banners of revolutionaries who refuse to let die the utopia for which great men and women die.

Antonio Nieto Cuevas