Basque Artists Head to U.S. to Interview Basque-Americans for Project

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Txipli Txapla Pum Amerikatik Artists to visit the U.S.

Artists Endika Basaguren and Amaia Hormaetxea were very familiar with the Basque diaspora, having family members that had immigrated to Australia, Venezuela, Chile and the United States. And the couple has been amazed at how well the Basques in those countries maintained their culture, despite being thousands of miles from their homeland.

“You live the Basque culture in a way that is stronger than many people here (in the Basque Country), said Basaguren about Basque-Americans in a Zoom interview with Euskal Kazeta from his home in Bilbo.

The husband-and-wife team will be flying to the West Coast Friday June 24, for a three-week trip in which they will film and take photos of people in the Basque communities of San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chino, Las Vegas and New York. They plan to interview Basque-Americans about how the immigrant communities have preserved their culture and traditions, some of them generations removed from the Basque Country. They also plan to record some short performances that will be integrated into a film.

The team from Txipli, Txapla Pum Amerikatik: Endika Besaguren, Amaia Hormaetxea and Ander Besaguren
The team from Txipli, Txapla Pum Amerikatik: Endika Basaguren, Amaia Hormaetxea and Ander Basaguren

They will be producing a video of the interviews, as well as taking photos that will be part of an audiovisual project called “Txipli, Txapla, Pum Amerikatik” that they hope to unveil at the Euskal Museoa in Bilbo in the fall and hopefully later in the U.S. Basaguren’s brother, photographer Ander Basaguren, is also part of the project, although he could not participate in the upcoming trip to the U.S. The project is being supported by the provincial government of Bizkaia.

The focus of the project will be “the border,” but not in the traditional sense, explained Basaguren. The goal is to show how Basque culture is maintained globally and thus, how the concept of “the Basque Country” supersedes its borders.

In anticipation of their trip, the team has done much research on the Basque-American community. And while Basaguren has only visited New York previously, he is now familiar with the many Basque activities that take place in the U.S. He is fascinated by such traditions like the Basque summer camp Udaleku that takes place annually, by how the sport of pelota continues to be played at courts built in the U.S., at the annual Basque festivals, at how the card game mus is frequently played and mus competitions organized. He notes that many people in the Basque Country do not know the extent to which the Basque traditions are carried on in the U.S. and the larger diaspora.

“We started the project to see how all these traditions have evolved over time; how, while living in a world that is so globalized, people continue to maintain these traditions,” Basaguren said.

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In view of the fact that they are traveling by airplane, the duo is keeping their equipment to a minimum. They’ll be working with one video camera, iPhones and a GoPro.

The team did a similar project 12 years ago, but it was created in London and exhibited there. That project, “Basques of the 21st Century,” was a photo exhibit. Basaguren said some of the photos from the original project will be incorporated into the final exhibit of “Txipli, Txapla, Pum Amerikatik.” The name comes from a line in the Basque Christmas song “Hator, Hator” that refers to the nostalgia for home and for traditions.

Some U.S. events have been planned to bring together people who might be interested in participating in the project. For more info and to connect with them, see their Facebook page.

Chino, Calif.
Friday, July 1
Social Night
Centro Basco
13432 Central Ave.

New York
Thursday, July 7
San Fermin in New York
The team will meet up at the bull on New York City’s Wall Street with anyone who would like to participate
They ask participants to wear red scarves
To participate, send an email to endikabasaguren@hotmail.com

Friday, July 8
Txipli, Txapla Pum Amerikatik Project
and Guillermo Zubiaga’s Presentation of “Joanes – Book 5: The Secret of Lamiak”
6 p.m.
RSVP by June 30 at gzubiaga@verizon.net
Euzko Etxea
307 Eckford St.
Brooklyn