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Andrés Pereira Paz

Venue: Gropius Bau

Andrés Pereira Paz

Born 1986 in La Paz, BO – lives and works in Berlin, DE

As fires ravaged its native Amazon habitat in 2019, a solitary guajojó bird made an unlikely journey; it flew to extraordinary heights to find safety in La Paz, Bolivia. Its sighting there caused a sensation and was reported in the local press. Within the darkness of this immersive installation, the guajojó is heard but not seen; its heartbeat and call resonate in a space softly illuminated by spheres of slow-burning fire and inhabited by celestial bodies, whose shadows on the surrounding walls seem to be falling from the sky, breaking apart, and disintegrating. Amidst this skyscape in turmoil, time seems to stand still as history repeats itself in an endless cycle of exploitation and anguish. For Andrés Pereira Paz, the bird’s tenacity speaks to the contemporary collective trauma of migration and displacement, in which escape is exceptionally arduous and return often impossible. It also embodies the instinctual desire to overcome adversity and flourish.

The metallic sculptural stars which accompany the flying bird, reference the line drawings in the seventeenth-century manuscripts of Felipe Guáman Poma de Ayala (c. 1535–c. 1615). Born into a noble Inca family shortly after Spanish colonization, he is known as the first Amerindian chronicler; his accounts describe the colonial oppression and violence against the original inhabitants of the Andes. The collective wound inflicted by this brutal past has yet to heal, especially because this history persists today in the ongoing violence and destruction of ecosystems and Indigenous communities. A bird of ill omen in Bolivian tradition, the guajojó’s song and dramatic migration seem like an eerie premonition of the devastating consequences of human infringement on the natural world. A recurring motif in Pereira Paz’s work is the idea that the syncretic nature of contemporary Bolivian—indeed, Latin American—identity can never be fully grasped without acknowledging the complex, often contradictory processes of colonization, and repairing the damage it inflicted.

Renata Cervetto

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