Dougald Hine

Euroaxacan Initiative of Transformative Cultures

A company of artists from Europe and a company of artisans from Oaxaca set out to meet each other. Over two years of journeys and collaborations, these partners will make and grow things together, create rituals and events, street art and venerative objects, share ideas, inspiration and hospitality.

At the heart of our project is the transforming power of culture: the insistence that our stories and symbols, our various senses of the sacred and the profane, are not a shallow surface over hard material and economic realities, but tectonic forces, capable of unsettling everything we know.

We set out with good intentions, but knowing enough of history to recognise how dangerous such intentions may be. Our best hope against these dangers is our own willingness to be transformed, as we seek to ground ourselves in unfamiliar physical and conceptual landscapes.

We choose as our guides a strange assortment of figures: the saints of the church of Santa Ana Zegache and the revolutionary icons stencilled on Oaxaca's street corners, the spirits of the Maguey and the Maíz, the homecoming of the artist Rodolfo Morales, the intellectual fire of Ivan Illich, and the archetypal trajectory of the Hero's Journey.

We begin and end with the Dia de Los Muertes: "the dead who," as John Berger tells it, "are less forgotten in Mexico than anywhere else in the world." And so, in all our journeyings, we renounce the modern superstition that the past is, or ever could be, left behind. We seek a way beyond the liquidation of culture, and of time itself, which has accompanied the project of modernity. Where it has striven for development, we seek communidad; where it has sought to do good, we seek to live well.

And so, if we are willing to lose ourselves, we hope to find, in the unexpected encounters which follow, something that has the feel of a way home.

>>   Read the text of my talk at TEDxOaxaca (Nov 2011)
>>   Visit the EITC website
>>   Follow the 'Finding Our Way Home' film project

The EITC project has been made possible with support from the EU Culture Programme 2007-2013. This text reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

EU Culture Programme - Education & Culture DG