Concealed Authoritarianism: Tiwanaku and Its Times in Bolivian Contemporary Art

Through the work of the artists Andrés Pereira and Roberto Valcárcel, the Professor Valeria Paz unfolds the constructs around the indigenous legacy which has founded cultural policies in Bolivia, and which has perpetuated a hegemonic understanding within art history that reflects not only in the public space but also in the cultural institutions of the country.

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  1. Named after the archaeologist Wendell C. Bennett.

  2. Tiwanaku was a political and religious center of the region near Lake Titicaca. It is also the name of the present-day town located next to the site. The spelling of Tiwanaku has changed over the years. In this article, I use the current spelling and only use the other versions when it comes to proper names.

  3. Constitución Política del Estado, February 7, 2009. <www.oas.org/ dil/esp/Constitucion_Bolivia.pdf>. [Accessed January 27, 2019].

  4. This period (between 1900 and 1930) of consolidation of La Paz as the seat of government and insertion of Tiwanaku as an unofficial national symbol is a consequence of the victory of the La Paz people in the Federal War of 1898–1899. The victory was achieved thanks to the alliance established between the Liberals and the indigenous followers of Pablo Zárate Willca, who was captured by his own allies once the war was over in response to his proposal of an indigenous government in Peñas.

  5. It should be noted that there were other arguments about the transfer of the Bennett Monolith, of different kinds and from different sectors of society. For more information, see Carmen Beatriz Loza, “Una ‘fiera de piedra’ Tiwanaku, fallido símbolo de la nación boliviana” en Estudios atacameños, 2008, n.36, pp.93–115.

  6. Franz Tamayo, “Creación de la pedagogía nacional (1910)” in El debate sobre la Pedagogía Nacional de 1910 (La Paz: Colección Pedagógica Plurinacional, Ministerio de Educación, 2014) p. 122.

  7. Javier Sanjinés, El espejismo del mestizaje, La Paz: Embajada de Francia, IFEA Instituto Francés de Estudios Andinos y Fundación PIEB, 2005, p. 54.

  8. The government is building a highway that will divide the Indigenous Territory and the Parque Nacional Isiboro Securé into two parts, an unconstitutional action that violates the law of the rights of Mother Earth and ignores the agreements reached by indigenous peoples. Protesters marched from the Indigenous Territory to the city of La Paz, a march that took two months.

  9. The Dakar Rally is an annual long distance off-road car race that takes place over several days and has been criticized for its environmental and social impact.

  10. Arthur Posnansky, Tihuanacu, la cuna del hombre americano (Nueva York: Editor J.J. Agustin, 1943).

  11. Julio Arrieta, “Un arqueólogo nazi en Tiwanaku”, El Correo (31 de mayo de 2013). . [Accessed January 2nd, 2019].

  12. Graham E.L. Holton, Archaeological Racism: Hans Hörbiger, Arthur Posnansky, Edmund Kiss and the Ahnenerbe Expedition to Tiwanaku, Bolivia, La Trobe University, Bundoora.

  13. íbid.

  14. Arthur Posnansky, Tihuanacu, la cuna del hombre americano (New York: Editor J.J. Agustin, 1943).

  15. Arthur Posnansky. “Conferencia pronunciada por el vicepresidente Prof. Ing. Arthur Posnansky, con ocasión del cincuentenario de la fundación de la ‘Sociedad Geográfica de La Paz’: Los dos tipos fundamentales de razas en la América del Sur, y las causas de su alta cultura material” in Boletín de la Sociedad Geográfica de La Paz, (La Paz: Editorial Voluntad, 1941).

  16. A short time later, the Bennet Monolith was transferred to the semi-subterranean Temple built in the neighborhood of Miraflores, and then, in the twenty-first century, it was returned to the archaeological site of Tiwanaku but, this time,
    to the museum.

  17. The teaching of national symbols is and has traditionally been part of the national educational program. Although these were revised in the new constitution proclaimed by the government of Evo Morales, it does not include any symbol before the republic. Thus, it is provided in the Political Constitution of the state (February 7, 2009), that “The symbols of the State are the red, yellow and green tricolor flag; the Bolivian anthem; the coat of arms; the wiphala; the rosette; the flower of the kantuta and the flower of the patujú.”

  18. For more information about how Valcárcel perceives, reflects and addresses these issues in his work, see the fifth chapter of my doctoral thesis: Valeria Paz Moscoso. Roberto Valcárcel: Renaming Repression and Rehearsing Liberation in Contemporary Bolivian Art. Colchester, University of Essex, 2016, pp. 215–259.

  19. I use the meaning of aura proposed by Walter Benjamin in La obra de arte en la época de su reproductibilidad técnica, México, D.F.: Editorial Itaca, 2003, p 13. . [Accessed January 31, 2019].

  20. In those years the misconception was spread, thanks to the publication of a photo-montage of the artist Sabino Pinto, of which the first rays of sun crossed the door on the winter solstice.

  21. Annotations and sketches constitute this panel “Terapéutico, Palabras tachadas, y Día nublado.” Adjectives and mystic invocations such as “Radial,” “Strong North Wind,” are written on Puerta del Sol postcards with black markers.

  22. Emeterio Villamil de Rada, La lengua de Adán y el hombre de Tiahuanaco, La Paz: Biblioteca del Bicentenario de Bolivia, 2016 [1888].

  23. Cecilia Wahren, “La creación de la Semana indianista. Indianidad, folklore y nación en Bolivia” in Universitas Humanística, n. 77, January-june 2014, pp. 169–195.

  24. Pereira also refers to a past associated with the pre-Hispanic world. This can be seen in the illustrations of the chronicles of Guamán Poma de Ayala, and to the attire that is recreated for televised official acts. As well as in the case of the bride’s dress in “ancestral ceremony” of the wedding of Vice President Álvaro García Linera held in Tiwanaku.

  25. Wahren, op. cit, p.187.


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