panther express

by Luis Tentido

about the video

The Panther Express project seeks to simultaneously raise awareness of an African American mural sited at the Ackerman Student Union Food Court at the University of California, Los Angeles (adjacent to Panda Express) and to invite opportunities for reflection on race and racism, bias and power. 

The project has four streams, which interrelate at the levels of embodied performance, consciousness raising, web deployment, and interviews with Arami Walker, a bi-racial undergraduate UCLA student. 

I created a symbolic performative character named ‘Lade Fader-Mural Awareness Worker,’ and I dressed similarly to a Panda Express worker in order to engage food court patrons. I created this character in order to function as metaphoric translator between the newly uncovered mural (it was covered for about 20 years) and the students who pass through this active liminal space on a daily basis, while engaging the public in a secret dance of conversation and action. 

This significant mural, titled ‘The Black Experience,’ was painted in 1970 by eight African American students from UCLA. Again, the mural is located just next to Panda Express. The mural was painted just one year after the Campbell Hall murders, which occurred on the UCLA campus in 1969. This horrific event involved two groups that were affiliated with the Black Panthers. These ‘factions’ were in an antagonistic relationship at the time of an event at UCLA/Campbell Hall. This antagonism was manipulated and fueled by the LAPD, causing a tragic outburst of violence in which two people were killed. At this time there is an increased awareness of serious and continuing issues of racism and bias on the UCLA campus as well as around the country. With this project, my intent is to find a respectful and sophisticated way to utilize a trans-disciplinary approach for a socio-political purpose. 

See the evolving web version of this project here


Luis Tentido                                                 


  contributor 2014 first edition


Luis Alberto Tentindo is an LA-based interdisciplinary artist/choreographer. He designs, builds and directs unique puppet/object-theater pieces, which are largely influenced by his choreographic experience. He also creates exhibitions/installations based on his theater pieces. From 1994 to 2008 he danced in several New York City-based contemporary dance companies, touring and teaching nationally and internationally. He now focuses on creating his own multi-disciplinary theater pieces and on teaching workshops. He is currently an MFA candidate in the UCLA Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance.