As you walk in the streets of La Paz, you immediately understand that there is a mystic feeling in paceños. There is a practical and a sacred sense in all the things they do, the most ordinary routines can be naturally transformed into unique spiritual happenings.
The city is extremely faceted – the immense highlands of the altiplano in El Alto are juxtaposed to the agglomeration of small houses in the valley, the intricacy of the historical center contrasts with the fake modernity of the Zona Sur area.
In 2019, we will continue our journey into the extravagant, bustling and chaotic life of the Bolivian capital city, still exploring this fertile ground for cultural assembling. The VS will insist on questioning notions of identity, folklore and contemporary rituals translated into architecture.
Students will again appropriate the Bolivian attitude of collecting objects and reproducing miniatures that gain symbolic connotations within specific ceremonies. They will carefully select ready-made pieces and samples, which then become fragments to be de-contextualized in terms of meaning, proportions and materiality – to create radically new artifacts.
If last year the VS investigated the masks, the costumes and the choreography of an actual Bolivian traditional dance – the Diablada – in the 2019 edition we will craft our own characters, to construct a layered performance, dealing both with popular myths and the urban fabric morphology.
Students will thoroughly experience F. Mamani Silvestre’s cholets, as built examples of the syncretism between Andean paganism and Catholic elements. Their compositional and aesthetic features are indeed grounded into the symbolism of indigenous folkloric dances and textiles: here in El Alto demons, dragons and angels, together with real-world creatures like bears and owls not only populate the parades, but also dictate the geometries of abstract motifs and the proportions of ornamental details.
We will try to absorb these contaminated visual languages – privileged witnesses of a cultural symbiosis – to extract design principles and spatial hierarchies, that enable a direct interplay of scale between architecture and the human body.
Indeed, we will record the memories of these identitarian architectural compounds, consciously adopting dysfunctional procedures to track back the symbolic items that inspired them. El Alto’s colourful buildings will become again costumes, masked characters with anthropomorphic and animalistic lineaments to dynamically inhabit the streets of La Paz – wearable and portable Cholets.
ARCHITECTURAL ASSOCIATION VISITING SCHOOL EL ALTO
22 July – 4 August 2019
OPEN CALL TO ARTISTS, DESIGNERS, FILM MAKERS, STUDENTS AND ANY CURIOUS MINDS! https://www.aaschool.
The AA Visiting School requires a fee of £860 per participant, which includes a £60 Visiting membership fee. We do provide scholarships for Bolivian students as well.
Fees include tuition and private transportation around the city and to El alto. All museums entrances, workshop setup, materials and tools are provided.