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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

ARTIST STATEMENT

Altar Materials: post oak leaves/branch, dried sumac, elm leaves, comfrey leaves, corn seed, ponderosa pine needles, atlantic surf clamshell, post-oak acorns -  gathered from Nonotuk, Wompanoag, Shinnecock, Lenapi, Osage, Muscogee Creek, Choctaw ancestral lands. Sage imported from Syria, Tobacco imported from Thailand and Sharpie Permanent Markers. Massachusetts State Flag provided by Metro Flag Co.

– With the sword, smallpox, slavery, livestock, cash-crops, monoculture, property law and manifest destiny, you steal the land -- you call this peace. You call this liberty. I call this genocide. Violence does not equal peace. Violence  does not equal liberty. Free the Land Back! –

For 36 years, Indigenous activists have petitioned the Massachusetts legislature to pass a bill to change the state flag and seal. With the support of local communities, 2020 may be the year the bill passes in the Senate and the House. For more information and action steps, go to changethemassflag.com How will we engage in a freedom practice to  recognize and turn back 500+ years of colonization in the Americas? With this in mind I have transformed the flag into an offering, stating what I want, and asking for guidance.

The new Massachusetts flag and seal should be developed with Indigenous people and their concerns at the center. I do not offer an alternate flag and seal in this piece, instead I have cut out all the elements under scrutiny by indigenous  changethemassflag.com activists – the sword above the head of a fictional Algonquin man with a down-turned arrow of surrender, and the state motto: by the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty. In an attempt to interrupt the imbalance of power under settler colonialism, I turn the flag/seal on its head. I have added a mantra: Free the Land Back! This references #LandBack a movement for indigenous sovereignty and calls for reparations to African peoples in the U.S. to Free the Land. Sharpie markers, cardboard, candles, tobacco, corn, flowers, sage, cedar, and banners filled our toolkit to make collective altars to create a space of mourning and militancy during the summer 2020 uprisings in the movement for Black Lives. I draw from this freedom practice in Rule Reverse! Free the Land Back!

Special thanks to Rae Gould, David Detmold, Brittany Walley, and the Five College Native American and Indigenous Studies listserve.

ARTIST BIO

kara lynch is a time-based artist living in the bronx, ny – born in the momentous year of 1968. her art practice manifests poetics, process, transfiguration, and meditation; it is a grounding for autonomy for Black and Indigenous people across Diaspora. It is re-memory, vision, and movement. Through low-fi, collective practice and social intervention lynch explores aesthetic/politcal relationships between time + space. This artist’s practice is vigilantly raced, classed, and gendered – Black, Queer and Feminist.

Current Projects include: ‘We Travel the Space Ways: Black Imagination, Fragments and Diffractions’ – an edited volume of Black Speculation; and the current project, ‘INVISIBLE’ – an episodic, speculative, multi-site video/audio installation that excavates the terror and resilient beauty of the Black-Indigenous experience. She is an emerit@s Professor of Video and Critical Studies at Hampshire College. In 2020 kara was awarded a Tulsa Artist Fellowship and has joined Gallery of the Streets as a principled artist collaborator.

 


FREE THE LAND BACK! RULE REVERSE! "By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty.” (¡LIBERA LA LAND BACK! ¡RÉGIMEN AL REVÉS! "Con la espada buscamos paz, pero paz solo si hay libertad”); 2020.

Materiales del altar: hojas/ramas de roble, zumaque seco, hojas de olmo, hojas de consuelda, semillas de maíz, agujas de pino ponderosa, concha de almeja blanca, bellotas de roble- recogidas de la tierra ancestral de Nonotuk, Wompanoag, Shinneock, Lenapi, Osage, Muscogee Creek y Choctaw. Salvia importada de Siria, tabaco importado de Tailandia y rotuladores permanentes Sharpie. Bandera del estado de Massachusetts proporcionada por Metro Flag Co.
 
Con espadas, viruela, esclavitud, ganado, monocultivos, derechos de propiedad y la doctrina del Destino Manifesto nos han robado la tierra: tú lo llamas paz. Le dices libertad. Yo lo llamo genocidio. La violencia no equivale a la paz. La violencia no equivale a la libertad. ¡Libera la Land Back!
 
Por 36 años, activistas indígenas le han pedido al gobierno de Massachusetts aprobar una propuesta de ley para cambiar la bandera y el escudo del estado. Con el apoyo de comunidades locales, la propuesta S.2848 fue aprobada por la legislatura y firmada por el gobernador de Massachusetts el 11 de enero de 2021. Para información actualizada sobre la propuesta y el rediseño de la bandera, el escudo y el lema, visite: https://changethemassflag.com/updates/.
 
¿Cómo practicar una libertad que reconozca y revierta más de 500 años de colonización en las Américas? Con esta pregunta en mente he transformado la bandera en una ofrenda que manifiesta lo que quiero y en la que pido orientación.
 
La bandera y el escudo de Massachusetts deben ser rediseñados y elaborados junto a la población indígena; sus preocupaciones deben ser el eje de la conversación. En esta obra, no propongo una bandera alternativa, sino una en la que eliminé los elementos criticados por activistas en changethemassflag.com: la espada sobre la cabeza de un hombre algonquino con su flecha hacia abajo, en señal de rendición, y el lema del estado —“Con la espada buscamos paz, pero paz solo si hay libertad”—. Busco interrumpir el desequilibrio de poder que existe bajo el colonialismo de asentamientos al poner de cabeza la bandera y el sello. Añadí un mantra: ¡Free the Land Back! Hace referencia a #LandBack, es decir “devuelve la tierra”, un movimiento por la soberanía indígena. Este mantra también exige indemnizar a las personas africanas en los Estados Unidos con el fin de Free the Land Back. Cajas de herramientas con rotuladores Sharpie, cartón, velas, tabaco, maíz, flores, salvia, cedro y pancartas para hacer altares colectivos y construir espacios de luto y militancia nos acompañaron durante las manifestaciones sociales del movimiento Black Lives en el verano de 2020. ¡Encuentro poder la práctica de libertad de Rule Reverse! ¡Free the Land Back!
 
Agradecimientos especiales a Rae Gould, David Detmold, Brittany Walley y el listserv del Programa Native American and Indigenous Studies de los Five Colleges.

kara lynch's "Free The Land Back". A white flag with a painted design in the center has various natural materials laid on top. The flag shows an upside-down emblem of a native man standing in the center of a blue shield. Text around the emblem reads in various colors, "FREE THE LAND BACK". Among the natural materials on the flag in piles is dried, multicolored maize, black and white feathers, acorns, an oak branch with dried leaves, and red-brown pinecones.

FREE THE LAND BACK! RULE REVERSE! By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty.2020

Altar Materials: post oak leaves/branch, dried sumac, elm leaves, comfrey leaves, corn seed, ponderosa pine needles, atlantic surf clamshell, post-oak acorns -  gathered from Nonotuk, Wompanoag, Shinnecock, Lenapi, Osage, Muscogee Creek, Choctaw ancestral lands. Sage imported from Syria, Tobacco imported from Thailand and Sharpie Permanent Markers. Massachusetts State Flag provided by Metro Flag Co.

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