42. Peru: Proyecto Desierto

The city of Tacna is located in the large, dry and desolate Atacama Desert in southern Peru. Like many other empty, deserted places in the world, people live as best they can. This deserted place was the theme for the theatre and visual art project: DESIERTO.

At the end of 2008, the “Proyecto Desierto” took place in the desert city of Tacna (southern Peru). With the Atacama Desert as the backdrop, Theatre Embassy, Cascoland and Deçiertopicante together with local and international, created different artistic interventions in the public space. The project took place within the framework of international development cooperation and aimed to give the city of Tacna a cultural boost. The artistic directors were Berith Danse and Roberto Palza.

The starting point for the artists was a search for the possibilities that the desert offers. The rich cultural history, the struggles the centuries and building a sustainable future in the desert, were the three sub-themes that were worked on. For three months, three phases, each with its public presentation, were used to work towards spectacular and impressive presentations. During those months of intensive collaboration, not only 18 local and international artists were trained, but a large part of the population of Tacna, some 18,000 people, was also made part of a tremendous cultural spectacle for the first time.

Theatre Embassy, with Berith Danse as its artistic director, chooses to have creative collaboration with artists who can and want to operate far outside the centre of the established cultural order, so not in a capital or in the centre of cities. Theatre Embassy values and encourages artists looking for a curious and culturally hungry audience. Theatre makers who dare to stick their necks out in communities where such art forms can be complicated due to the political situation or economic poverty. Theatre makers who are engaged in the social environment where they offer their cultural and artistic “services” for the cultural development of the community. They, therefore, operate in an environment with little access to artistic training, workshops or other forms of inspiration for their profession.

Partner organisation: Grupo de Teatro Deçiertopicante
Executors TE: 6
South-South: 1 (South Africa), 1 (Honduras), 1(Nicaragua)
Local Artists: 14
Production team: 6
Target group: General Audience
Audience: 25.000
Performances: 9
Workshops: 10 500 participants
Volunteers: 50
Participating Organizations: Cascoland, Escuela de Arte de Tacna, Universidad Particular de Tacna, Colegio San Jose de San Martin, Universidad Nacional Jorge, Groman departemento Arquitectura, Alcaldia de Boca del Rio.
Finances: PSO, Dutch Embassy in Peru, St Doen, HIVOS, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Girasolar.
Theme: Sustainability
DVD: Desierto 35 minutes by Guilly Koster.
Publication: book Desert/Desierto by Theatre Embassy

Documentary Desierto: http://vimeo.com/18995898
Teaser: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDLfa1mqUYM

The documentary “Proyecto Desierto, Creating from Emptiness” shows the working process of a unique project and highlights the importance of the desert for the preservation of cultural heritage and the opportunities it offers for modern technology, such as the generation of solar energy. The importance of water in a desert area is also expressed in the film. The documentary is a production of Bright Developments and Colourbox Moving Images, the audiovisual departments of the Cultuurbank