This paper traces a collaboration between Stockholm-based video artists and an artisan workshop in the village of Zegache St. Ana in Oaxaca, Mexico, and the co-production of a video animation of the local patron saint St. Ana, mother of Mary. It examines the narratives of locality, religion and artistic practice that the animation gives rise to as it moves across different media platforms and locales. Religious (re-)inventiveness has played a crucial role in the cultural resilience of the indigenous population of Oaxaca. The venerative practices of Zapotecos, Mixtecos and Nahuas, though firmly Catholic in their faith, have repeatedly challenged the sacrament-orientated hierarchies of the Hispanicized clergy.
Today the church of Santa Ana Zegache constitutes the artistic, cultural and spiritual landmark of the town. Twenty years ago, this 16th-century building, and all of its artwork, was in ruins. The Community Workshop of Zegache was established to train local women in various techniques of conservation and restoration. A decade later these local people had restored the the church to its past splendor - a masterpiece of "Indian Baroque" – and the community workshop had grown to 17 members, both men and women.
In 2008, the Stockholm-based video artists, Performing Pictures started a long-term collaboration with the Zegache artisans. Several inter-active video shrines with animated saints and apparitions are the result of this artistic, cultural and technical exchange. Together they have shaped new outlets for venerative practice that combine crafts with media technology, electronics and animation.
The paper examines the meaning of these works first, for the artists and artisans, and second, for other residents of Zegache, as they encounter the animated figure of St. Ana in different spaces and media formats. Its point of departure is the production of the video animation of St. Ana in November 2011, and its first local showing as an iPhone app. The second phase of the project involved building a small, solar powered chapel at the entrance of the town, to house the video-animation. Phase three is a workshop in digital story-telling to be carried out in March 2013, asking both children and adults to record their own stories of the meanings St. Ana has for the town. Plans are being developed to extend the project to include members of the Zegache expatriate community living in Oregon.
video art, artistic collaboration, photography, Oaxaca, religious artefacts, Performing Pictures, Talleres Communitarios