Art With Me *GNP took place May 10–13 in Tulum, Mexico. It was the area’s first arts and cultural festival, focused on preserving the natural environment and strengthening the artistic community of Tulum. This first year looked at waste management and the threat to the Mesoamerican Reef System, the ocean, and the local population. Over four days, panel discussions, exhibitions, and performances took place involving artists (like Tatiana Trouvé and Marcos Castro), business leaders, and environmental activists.
Whitewall spoke with Eduardo Neira, the founder of Azulik, a local luxury eco-hotel that sits between the Mayan jungle and the sea. The site was built using only eco-matierals, and recently opened the contemporary art space, IK Lab.
WHITEWALL: What initially attracted you to Tulum?
EDUARDO NEIRA: I was drawn to the Mayan culture’s perfume that floods everywhere. That is what attracts us all to Tulum, it is something so subtle but always present. It is the sweetness of the Mayans, who never raise their voices, who are always respectful with each other and with others. It is a living culture with priests, shamans, herbalists, masseurs, and artists.
WW: What is your vision for Azulik in Tulum?
EN: My vision is for Azulik to help you reconnect with yourself, others, and the environment; to reconnect the native tribes with the contemporary tribes. When we reconnect with ourselves, we make contact with the sacred and everything recovers its meaning.
WW: How is sustainability central to your Mission in Tulum?
EN: At Azulik we are learning to respect that the trees were here before us and that’s why they are still in the middle of our restaurants, in the corridors, and in the villas. We are going to take this a little further: we are not going to cut any trees. Inside my house there are 200 trees; inside the next gallery there is an entire forest and a lagoon. We do not alter the shape of the floor and this is why our floors are not flat. We communicate with guests by messages that travel in wooden balls throughout the hotel instead of using phones. We do not use curtains, electricity, showers, minibars, or air conditioners. We interpret luxury as reconnection.
WW: What can you tell us about the new space you are creating that is part artist residences, recording studio, fashion workshop, and design workshop?
EN: It is an attempt to return to work and function as a community, where artists, musicians, designers, and chefs can share time and space and co-create together. The Mayan communities are always searching the reconnection with the sacred, with the origin, with the truth and the unique. We believe that art is a bridge to the sacred, in the same way that communities of native people are when they are in true contact with their origins. We want to start reconnecting art with the communities, creating artists residences and art schools in communities.