by Sukanya GargNov 08, 2019
The exhibition project Radio Carabuco by Bolivian artist Andrés Pereira Paz evolved from the podcast station of the same name created by the artist. The starting point of the project was the artist's critical reflections on a vision of hell produced by the painter José López de los Ríos, created ca. 1664 in the town of Carabuco in Bolivia. This painting, commissioned by the Catholic church, can still be seen in Carabuco’s church on the shores of Lake Titicaca in La Paz. As European engravings were widely known during the colonial period, these syncretic depictions of ‘Glory’, ‘Purgatory’ and ‘Hell’ may correspond in part to engravings made by French artist Philippe Thomassin during the early 17th century, highlighting the interchange of images at that time.
As in many other paintings of the period, the Christian motif was reproduced by the Spanish colonial power for the purpose of 'pagan conversion' and as propaganda to hammer home Catholicism's message of salvation as intended for transfer to Latin America. Against this background, Pereira Paz will present a series of podcasts exploring the forms and effects of religious and cultural colonisation and investigating various political and social perspectives, particularly with regard to his native Bolivia. The focus will be on the demonisation and suppression of the 'Other'.
For the exhibition at Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin, Pereira Paz worked around thinking of the exhibition space as a setting for listening. He collaborated with international artists, social scientists, performers and activists (Gabriel Acevedo Velarde, Ana Alenso, David Aruquipa Perez, Stanisław Czaplicki, Elia Nurvista, Liv Schulman) to produce specially commissioned audio pieces and podcasts on various subjects, such as the emerging European far right, LGBT performances in Bolivian folklore, the presence of evangelical Christians in South America, and extractivism, etc.
In this way the artist asks whether the traditional western notion of ‘hell’ can function as a symbolic place of active resistance against propaganda, censorship, and discrimination that should be defended as fiercely as possible – after all, in traditional Bolivian culture the earth and the subterranean do not conjure ruin or disaster; on the contrary, Pachamama means great Mother Earth and eternal source of life.
The audio installation at Künstlerhaus Bethanien was supplemented by a selection of images from the David Aruquipa Perez and Comunidad Diversidad archive as well as an object-based installation created by the artist. The podcasts and audio pieces are also available online at www.radiocarabuco.com.
Andrés Pereira Paz was born in La Paz, Bolivia, in 1986. He lives and works in Berlin. He completed his artistic training at the Academia Nacional de Bellas Artes Hernando Siles in La Paz as well as at the Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero and at the Centro de Investigaciones Artísticas (CIA) in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is currently a KfW Stiftung grant holder in the international studio programme at Künstlerhaus Bethanien.