Crossing Lives - PhMuseum

Crossing Lives

Nicoletta Cerasomma

2008 - 2020

Bolivia; Ecuador; Peru; Argentina; Chile

This project aims to represent Andean Countries, stuck in between the Past and Future. Like all my latest projects, I choose diptych as format to catch the Andean social and cultural dualism, a long time stratification of Society: indigenous v/s colonist, the rich v/s the poor, the native people v/s the conquerors, National Borders v/s Indigenous Territory. Native traditions and habits are radicated in National Countries such as the Western culture and influence. During the last centuries, both cultures have lived side by side, in a permanent clash among different identities, ethnities and cultures. In some cases, differences are melted together in a new cultural tradition.

In regards to the Bolivian situation, since Evo Morales became president for the first time in 2005, Bolivia has changed in many ways. Pluralism and different ethnities have been recognized, The poverty rate has decreased as well as analphabethism, the economy has grown by an annual average of 4.6 percent. On the other hand Morales’ open policy towards Western Investors plus the adoption of authoritarian policies takes him away from Native electorate. Since President Evo Morales was replaced by coupist Jeanine Añez in 2019 the rights of indigenous people have been denied, unemployment has increased and social and racial tensions have become complicated in an already difficult political crisis.

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  • The exploitation of natural resources of Andean Territory is one of the main concerns of Native People in South America, based on ancient beliefs that environmental issues originate from taking too much from Nature/Pachamama.

  • Andean Territory is rich of raw materials, such as Lithium, Copper and Silver. Mine activity in South America is stictly linked with soil erosion and desertification, labour exploitation and economic dependence on foreign investments. But also the high content of substances contained in waste such as mercury, zinc and copper are having disastrous consequences on the environment and health.

  • Inca tradition and culture are frequent and deeply rooted in Andean Countries.

  • Quinoa crop intensive farming is related to deforestation, desertification and pollution: since global demand for quinoa arised, many farmers have expanded its cultivation on more land and started using agrochemicals and fertilizers. This exploitation has also an economic consequence, as Quinoa price has decreased over last decade for Bolivian farmers.

  • A difficult and lost society in the Andean highlands often marked by gender violence, in particular for the cholitas Aymara, and patriarchy.

  • The exploitation of water for industrial and human activity (mine and farming) entails draining of water basins such as Lake Poopò in Bolivia and disputes between Countries over the utilization of water (Cile and Bolivia on explotation of Silala river).

  • "The lithium of Bolivia belongs to Bolivian people" words of Evo Morales in the fight against the exploitation of foreign multinationals.

  • Pachamama for Indigenous People and Inca mythology is a fertility goddess linked to Nature and Earth. It could be also connected to the concept of Mother Nature. After the Spanish colonialism and the forced conversion, Pachamama has been associated with Virgin Mary for indigenous people.

  • Under the influence of the global indigenous movement, since the 60s the Andean Population have tried to get their rights recognized by Governments, such as the influence of Inca and indigenous traditions on the basis of a new concept of equality as a synonym of integration and granting of different identities and ethnities.

  • Juana Azurduy de Padilla was one of the most important feminine figure of indigenous fight and resistence in 19th century. She was identified with mythological and religious figures of Pachamama, the indigenous representation of Mother Nature, and the Virgin Mary, from the Catholic cultural heritage.


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