IN THE SPOTLIGHT: OAXACA, MEXICO
The 2017 earthquakes
The Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Oaxaca, was hit by a huge earthquake on September 7, 2017, that killed 45 people and caused severe damages on houses, public buildings, the city infrastructure, and art works. Immediately after the earthquake, the community of artists from Oaxaca and Mexico started mobilizing to help the affected people deal with the disaster. From punctual and spontaneous actions to more organized and long-lasting activities, dozens of artists have been actively working in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec until today.
About the region
The Isthmus of Tehuantepec is one of the eight regions that constitute the state of Oaxaca, in the southeast area of Mexico. Juchitán, the capital city of the region, is situated 275 km to the East of Oaxaca de Juárez (a 5-hour drive), which is 500 km away from Mexico City (a 6-hour drive). The region is very rich in terms of biodiversity, and it has become an important node for the generation of electric energy through wind farms, which have been a source of controversy between local communities and national authorities for the last decades. The Isthmus of Tehuantepec is anchored in Zapotecan customs and traditions that characterize the daily life of the city.
Art and culture in Oaxaca
The whole region of Oaxaca is a unique place in Mexico and Latin America for its rich culture, which includes not only ancient customs and traditions, but also a long list of professional and prolific artists whose contributions have a lot to say in how the society is shaped. This inherent cultural condition of Oaxaca and the Isthmus of Tehuantepec explains why artists responded so quickly to the disaster: culture and art are natural ways of living in this region. The artist and activist Francisco Toledo, who was born in Juchitán in 1940, has become one of the most renowned living artists in the whole country.