Media artist and educator Byrt Wammack has been involved in independent filmmaking and film production for many years. His work combines film, video, sound and other media with collaborative processes and trans-disciplinary research to explore cultural identity, post-colonialism, autonomy, migration and memory. He teaches visual arts at the Escuela Superior de Artes de Yucatán in Mérida, Yucatán, and has since 2005 been the director of the college’s video workshop. He has both written and taught in the areas of media studies, philosophy, political science, and anthropology.
To promote local performing arts and video production as alternatives to commercial television, and to foster the creative use of audiovisual technologies and independent self-expression in the region, Wammack has founded several local and collaborative art initiatives in southern and southeastern Mexico. One of these, Yoochel Kaaj, a community-based media organization was created in 1998 by Wammack and his wife, Ana Rosa Duarte (Yucatec Maya). From 1999 to 2008 the organization organized the Geografías Suaves video festival, which included a regional competition for residents of southern Mexico, Belize and Guatemala. Yoochel Kaaj's Turix project distributes a video magazine produced in rural indigenous communities of southern Mexico, where Wammack, Duarte, Jaime Magaña (Maya), and other collaborators lead youth video workshops. Most of the videos are in the indigenous languages of the region, and include regional reports and video letters to other communities.
Wammack received a Ph.D in political economy and philosophy from the University of Texas at Austin in 1997, and lives in Mérida, Yucatán.
"Video in one form or another has become almost quotidian
many of the indigenous communities of southeastern Mexico where
also become an important tool for the reaffirming of familial
local identities in communities marked by migration. It is also
gaining ground very slowly as a media for independent communication
among communities, and I think that this is one of its most important
Screened by NMAI
Image credits: Byrt
Wammack at the 2004 Morelia International Film Festival - photograph
by Amalia Cordova; Byrt