This extraordinary presentation of activist art and ephemera, “Between Two Worlds,” is the inaugural show at collective NoMüNoMü’s new exhibition space in Baltimore. NoMüNoMü, according to its website, is “an intersectional arts collaborative working to challenge the perpetual systems of oppression within and beyond the art world” by joining forces with “artists + grassroots organizations at the intersections of race, age, gender and orientation.” That profound sense of purpose suffuses the show, curated by artist, activist, and NoMüNoMü leader Joseph Orzal, who originally started his enterprise from his own living room in Washington, DC.
“Between Two Worlds” includes a vast array of posters and prints from artists, activists, and collectives who are making work that imagines a unified global anti-imperialist movement. Among the more well-known offerings on display—such as the posters Death to the Fascist Pigs and Amerikkka, both 1970, created by the Black Panther Party’s minister of culture, Emory Douglas—are contributions by eleven artists from the worker-owned cooperative Justseeds; twenty-two posters from the Organization of Solidarity with the People of Asia, Africa and Latin America (OSPAAAL), which originated in Havana, and original poster art from Gayle “Asali” Dickson, the Black Panthers’ sole woman graphic artist. The poster depicts a Black child leaning against a decrepit radiator, clutching a pamphlet advocating for the 1973 elections of fellow Panthers Bobby Seale (for mayor of Oakland, California) and Elaine Brown (for city councilwoman). On a nearby wall in this illustration is an ad for a luxury home with a cockroach crawling beneath it. The text at the top of the poster—as though it’s the child’s words—reads “Last night I dreamt all my friends came over to see my new room and play in my yard. But I sleep in the kitchen with my sisters and there are rats in the lot out back.” In Baltimore, a city where so many artists find power and freedom in their craft, the show proves that art is for everyone, especially when used as a tool to affect social and political change.
An added layer of depth and meaning is provided by a curated collection of greenery—provided by Stem & Vine, a Black-owned plant shop in Baltimore—indigenous to the regions of the artists whose works are on view. The flora—representing Asia, India, Mexico, and Pakistan, among other places—reinforces a living connection to these areas’ ecosystems while subtly commenting on the effects of imperialism and colonialism throughout the globe. Indeed, “Between Two Worlds” is a challenging and generous offering that exists in a rich space of activism and art, history and hope.