68 Voices, 68 Hearts: “No one can love what he does not know”.

68 Voces

Una entrevista con Gabriela Badillo, fundadora de 68 Voces

From Mexico, a series of animated indigenous stories narrated in their native languages. They were created under the premise that “no one can love what he/she does not know”, in order to promote pride, respect and the use of native languages. It also helps to reduce discrimination and promote pride in all the communities and cultures that make up Mexico’s cultural richness. “68 Voices” is a project created by Gabriela Badillo/HOLA COMBO.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: https://68voces.mx/projects

SEE MORE VIDEOS: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCivRXbPMMuE1XJYIFl61wRw/videos

What is 68 Voices?

“68 Voces 68 Corazones (“68 Voices 68 Hearts”) is a series of animated indigenous stories narrated in their native language, created in the 68 indigenous languages of Mexico. Under the premise “No one can love what he/she does not know”, in order to help foster pride, respect and use of Mexican indigenous languages among speakers and non-speakers. As well as to help reduce discrimination and foster a sense of pride towards all communities and cultures that are part of Mexico’s cultural richness. To love diversity.

At the point where we are, we are half way through production, we have 35 stories, 35 hearts made visible, we have 33 to go. We are looking for resources to continue production, and also focusing on the 35 we already have. It is a project that is currently being disseminated through networks, the Internet and Canal Once (Mexican television), the National Institute of Indigenous Languages (INALI) and the National Commission for the Development of Indigenous Peoples (CDI), which are the main sponsors of the project.

To date, what we have done is a compilation of oral tradition stories, giving way to these other stories and the richness that older adults, grandparents, have to foster a bond. The next step (which we have been doing thanks to INALI for the past two years) is to work more directly with the communities. It is not a project created for the community, but with the community.

These are stories, the last ones we have made, already in a workshop with the children, so that the children’s drawings are the same ones we will animate, and right there, the older adults will be the ones to tell us which stories we are going to portray. We seek to be a trigger, a spark that can generate new actions, within the communities, within the schools, with young people, it is a non-profit project, which is fully open on the Internet, on the website 68voces.mx. And for the same reason it is also broadcast on open television, so that it can reach everyone it needs to reach, and on that basis new actions can be generated.

How do they get ahead, in the face of the floclorization and the culture of invisibility of the indigenous presence? For many years we were educated to understand that the indigenous peoples were dead cultures, but no, they are living, active cultures that propose, that have a presence.

I believe that it has been the work of many people, of many institutions and of many efforts over many years. INALI has been operating for, if I remember correctly, about 30 years, it is an institute in Mexico, which is the National Institute of Indigenous Languages, and there are many efforts of different institutions… On the one hand, colonization, and specifically in Mexico during the Porfiriato, it was decided that the whole community should be homogeneous, and it was forbidden to speak in indigenous languages. Little by little this awareness has been changing, making room for all people who speak as different languages, and also emphasizing that, on the contrary, instead of being a bad thing, it is something enriching. All the wonder that all these languages represent, the language seen as the tip of the iceberg, all that is behind it, culture, traditions, histories, the community it represents.

What has been the strategy to make this project accessible to more young people, and even, for example, to the 35 million Mexicans living in the United States? Perhaps even thinking of the millions of Mexican cultural heirs who stayed on this side, who did not cross the border, but rather the border crossed them when the United States took half of our territory. This is a root not very explored, nor very well attended by the Mexican state, how to make this space accessible to these people?

The truth is that, personally, the project has been surprising me. The project arose 5 years ago, it arose out of a personal need to do something for others through what you know how to do, which is to tell stories, and specifically also as in this issue of indigenous languages, my grandfather was of Mayan descent, from Yucatan, he was from Maxcanu. When I created it, it was very personal, and as it has evolved, as time has gone by, it was a surprise for me to see the interest of certain institutions to promote it, which has been a great support in diffusion. In this case INALI, and Canal Once, and also through social networks it has been going viral to reach a lot of people, especially in the United States as you say. Mexicans or Latinos who were on the other side, or who are on the other side, and I have also seen that they have this need to connect, a need to return to their roots, or to be more and more proud of what they have. In fact, I believe that those who are outside are the ones who value the most–from the comments that have reached us the most–are from people from outside, who miss or are proud to be part of one of these communities. And I think that is what always happens, that when someone sees their space lost, in this case their territory, their family, their culture, they begin to miss it and I think that is also why it has been like a project that has gone viral in that community.

How can we deconstruct this process in order to understand and make the country understand that we are different, that this is the way it should be, that we do not have to be uniform, we do not all have to be the same, speak the same and think the same?

I just think it is a matter of awareness, of making people aware, that is why the premise of the project is: “No one can love what he does not know”. That is why we want to make known this richness that exists, cultural, linguistic, artistic and historical richness, and through this knowledge, we can promote pride. I think that little by little, as I was saying, there are many instances and projects that have been gradually raising awareness, and not only on the indigenous issue, but also on the issue of being part of an indigenous community, on many issues. I just think it’s a time when there is an awareness of diversity and part of what we are looking for in the project is to find love and richness in diversity.

How have you experienced this projection of the work of 68 voices in indigenous communities? What do people tell you, thinking about how they can build these processes of resilience, of re-empowerment in the community? What inspires your work?

The comments we have received have been very nice, the truth is, to a certain extent, grateful for making them visible, as if we were a grain of sand that is making them visible. We are not the panacea, we are not the solution, but the point is to generate a conversation and from there other things can be generated, and I believe that this has been achieved, at least as a project, and that the communities themselves have seen and appreciated it: helping to make their culture, their language visible, giving them a place, giving them a voice.

What is the most creatively challenging and beautiful thing you have experienced in this project?

I don’t know if challenging is the word, but the most beautiful thing has been to know, myself, all the variety and all the richness that exists. I think that most of us here, most Mexicans, know that there is a great cultural richness, but I think there is so much that we don’t know about it.

I have loved, within this project, getting to know the stories, getting to know the people above all, and listening to them, and knowing how all these stories are part of or have been built by the communities. Stories of why they have no water, stories of why there is only palm in that place, stories that have made them what they are now and that as such are building us as a country. At one point a reporter asked me how I categorized myself, she mentioned that many people categorize themselves, “well, I am Zapotec” “I am Mayan” or “I am…”. But for me that at the same time excludes others, and I think that what is important and what I also take from the project, and what we do as a project, is that for me I am Mexican and being Mexican means all this diversity and that is what makes us incredible as Mexicans.

* Creative director and co-founder of HOLA COMBO, a producer focused on the development of audiovisual content that believes in the social responsibility we have as a media. A designer from the Universidad Iberoamericana, she specialized in design and animation at Televisa, where she was part of the Imaginantes project. With more than 12 years of experience, his work has been recognized in various publications and national and international festivals, such as the New York Festival, Promax-BDA, Ariel, Annecy, among others, as well as by the National Fund for Culture and the Arts, where thanks to the co-investment grant, he created the series 68 Voices-68 Hearts.