Emory Douglas: Seize the Time
Imagery of Black Panther party’s minister for culture still high in insurrectionary power
The imagery of the Black Panther party’s first and only minister for culture has lost none of its insurrectionary power over the last half-century. At a time when the Arab Spring and Occupy movements have reintroduced a generation to often violent political protest, Douglas’ slogan-driven cartoons, from the pages of his self-edited newspaper The Black Panther, are a reminder of the days when polemic was permitted to exist in more than 140 characters.
The work is presented on original poster-sized pullouts from the magazine, framed and re-contextualised for the gallery space. These are no longer artefacts, but living, breathing examples of a political message mixed with the alluring, sexy tropes of advertising, from the machine gun silhouette motif to the recurring slogans like ‘shoot to kill’ and ‘death to the fascist pigs’. In one image a black homeowner has apparently shot an official home invader to death; in another a black man prepares a homemade bomb under the slogan ‘by any means necessary, unless you got something better’. In the titular wall-sized mural, an armed African-American mob chase pigs – literally – from the frame. These are dynamic, frightening, darkly amusing images that helped define the language and iconography of revolt.
Kendall Koppe Gallery, Glasgow, until Fri 1 Jun