Sofia, Bulgaria-born and NYC-based artist Snejina Latev escaped to Oaxaca at the end of last year, leaving the city (and its mental baggage) for a few months to create work in a new environment. After falling in love with the city of Mexican artisans, Latev will return in July to document their studio practices, the materials they use and the techniques they have developed—but Latev wants to do more than just be an observer. Thus, she’s raising funds through Kickstarter for four Nikon D3200 cameras and supplementary equipment that will be used (and then kept) by local artisans to film the work of their peers. A documentary becomes a means to put digital tools into the hands of craftspeople, so they can tell and promote their own stories in the broader internet-driven society.
“[Oaxaca] is both beautiful and gritty with just the right amount of discomfort to make you feel like you are experiencing life more closely or intimately somehow,” Latev tells CH. “It is rich, dripping to the point of over-saturation, with unusual appropriation of symbols and materials and objects. The most inexplicable, however, is how much it reminded me of Bulgaria—where I grew up. I feel at home in a foreign land.” One of the stories she’s been able to share so far is that of Studio Xaquixe, a sustainably focused glass studio based in Magdalena Apasco that not only uses 95% recycled glass in their base, but even converts waste cooking oil into energy to minimize their impact on the earth.
Visit Latev’s Kickstarter campaign to learn more and support the documentary production. One of the donor rewards will be a sculpture of a skull that Latev constructed from discarded pencils found in an abandoned pencil factory outside of Oaxaca over the winter.
Images courtesy of Snejina Latev