We began documentation of indigenous public rituals and celebrations in 1998 in Basíhuare, a small Tarahumara village in Copper Canyon in Chihuahua, Mexico. At the time Armando Espinosa Prieto was interested in documenting Cross Cultural rituals and traditions to gather materials for his “art Video Practice”.
The process at the beginning was straight forward, we would ask for permission to film, pay a fee and gather the materials we wanted. We soon realized that although the community was happy with our contribution to the fiesta, whatever we paid for documenting did not have a far reaching effect. Usually the money was all used up before the fiesta was over.
The whole process felt wrong, perpetuating the colonizing pattern of foreigners in an indigenous community; the gathering cultural materials to be used for purposes unrelated to the community.
As we became acquainted with indigenous culture we realized we had to change that approach.
One of the main concepts followed by indigenous way of life is reciprocity, and if we wanted to really change the way we were documenting we had to give it all back to the community. We started contemplating the idea of creating a product that could be given back and make our interaction a long lasting benefit to both the community and us.
We started creating projects that in cooperation with a Community Museum would document a public dance, ritual or tradition of importance to the community.
The product would be a documentary that could be given back to the community with the rights to reproduce and sell for the exclusive benefit of the Community Museum.
But we wanted to go further and developed another component to the projects; a related community project that would benefit the community as a whole.
And finally with the addition of one last component, we would promote the Community, their Traditions and the Documentary by submitting it to Film Festivals, talking and showing the documentary in Universities and Museums (always through a sponsor so the admission would be free) and showing the proses of our work on the web and social media.
By the time we became a Not for Profit Organization our mission was clear:
“To Help Protect, Promote and Preserve Traditional Cultures”.
Armando Espinosa Prieto Artist, videographer, editor. Lead person in all previous documentations in this ongoing project, including community relations. Cuban American, bilingual (Spanish / English), has resided for extensive periods of time in Latin America.
Craig Johnson Sound, photographer, assistant community liaison. Has been involved in all previous documentations in this ongoing project. Bilingual (English / Spanish), has resided for extensive periods of time in Latin America.