UTA – KUYA: Back Home is a multidisciplinary installation comprising of six bodies of work ranging from photography and film, painting, sculpture, and digital renderings created by Bolivian contemporary artists, Wara Vargas Lara, Elias Huajlliri, Fatima Choque, Salvador Molina, Wara Apaza, and Nelida Condori. UTA – KUYA: Back Home explores the Imaginative theme of being able to walk without prejudice, without borders, and without a sense of time. As Indigenous contemporaries, we can easily inhabit our own worlds through a deep exploration of the past an altruistic reflection of the present. UTA – KUYA: Back Home was manifested through an 8-month virtual fellowship administered by the Soul of Nations Foundation’s Indigenous International: Green Architecture Project (GAP) in La Paz, Bolivia.

Historically, the Aymara Peoples, a large South American group Indigenous to the Altiplano, referred to the past
as nayrapacha and nayra. In this regard to the integral cultural understanding and knowledge, the past give notes to modernity. The past was also perceived to be a mere feeling that could only be experienced through the lens of nostalgia. In paradox to these traditional sentiments, the future was referred to as some sort of q’ipi or a burden of worries that was better to symbolically carry on your back (qhilpha). The sensational act of carrying your future from the forefront was looked down upon, as it would not allow one to walk forward towards progression, and inevitably would suppress life itself.

The act of walking is indeed something quite courageous and could be held to the highest esteem of human endeavor. In fact, the Aymara referred to walking as quipnayr uñtasis sarnaqapxañani, an aphorism that declares the Homosapien urge to continuously transition through the present, while lightly observing peripheral view of the future- past. Thus, a participating in an eternal juggling act of carrying the future on one’s back all the while keeping the past in sight. This scared Aymara perception of walking can easily be interpreted as a metaphor for life.


Support for UTA – KUYA: Back Home and the Indigenous International: Green Architecture Project was provided by the Soul of Nations Foundation, the U.S. Department of State and the United Nations Development Program. Indigenous International is the umbrella program created through the Soul of Nations Foundation’s Indigenous Arts Expansion Initiative which is aimed to help connect Indigenous and Black communities with boundary-pushing cultural and artistic experiences around the world.


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Short Film

All works seen in this film are an artistic intervention of site-specific and land-based art created in the town of Uru Chipaya. These works depicts a realistic narrative of resource depletion and express a retrospective unique environmental terrain. The Chipayas are a people that have known how to prevail over time, along with their various forms of architecture, clothing and language. Thus, presenting one of the oldest cultures in Bolivia and Latin America.

Works On View

TOUCH DIALOGUES explores how the various forms of traditional and contemporary Indigenous inspired and crafted forms of architecture of the Andean region correlate to the social structure of the setting and it’s people. By capturing space, conflict, and celebration, Molina’s intellectual collection of photographs introduce a new world that has always existed but is also ever-changing with the times of today. This world is rooted in tradition and moves and reshapes itself for protection. The Andean being is stationed and flows in all directions. Like a confrontation between distant temporal realities, the point of convergence between the past and the future is in the present.

My Past is Ahead presents a series of digital renderings and photographs that introduce a circular and high journey of a walking reflection on time, space and progression. Choque’s observation is heavily influenced by her love for the contrast of Indigenous Bolivian lifestyle in rural Chipaya region and in the grandiose city of El Alto. Her source of inspiration is culturally transferred from the ancestral track of the Chipaya Peoples, traditionally referred to as Men of Water and Wind. Choque believes the roots of intergenerational knowledge, that were first fertilely planted by the Chipaya Peoples, helped to inform the robust contemporary city of El Alto, and although 400 kilometers in distance, she refers to both spaces as home: a space of self-recognition, freedom, and protection.

Transparencies is a mixed media photography installation that invites the viewer to question preconceived notions of Indignous Bolivian forms of architecture of the past and present within Andean Culture. Condori believes the cultural tradition and ancestral identity are part of the Andean peoples and this sense of identification thus influences the environment both from a literal and sociological point of view. The striking colors, the symbolic charge, and the new ways of constructing a space are all apparent foci of Transparencies are inspired from Alteña architecture. On the contrary, in Chipaya, it remains preserved over time.One way to contrast this is to put the main characteristics of each type of architecture on the same plane, this by means of creating and capturing various layers of translucent imagery that balances between fictionality and the physical.

Time Contrast is ceramic work highlights the architectural dualities between the Bolivian Indigenous community of
Uru Chipayas and modernized City of El Alto. This work encompasses the cultural syncretism of architecture throughout the county of Bolivia through pop colors, shapes, symbols and unique details. By exploring the past, present, and future of both Bolivian cultures, the architecture of the Chipayas may transmute an impressive legacy that has been maintained through the ages.

Home is a visual and written manifesto from the Bolivian Fellowship cohort on their final reflections on understanding the literal and philosophical functions of home. This artistic happening was pioneered by Lead Artist Fellow, Wara Vargas Lara and includes confessional declarations from Elias Huajlliri, Fatima Choque, Salvador Molina, Wara Apaza and Nelida Condori. The collection of photographs are still from a collaborative short-film entitled UTA-KUYA: Back Home.

Perspective of Cultures is a hyper-symbolistic ceramic mural that represents Apaza’s two Bolivian cultural identities — Uru Chipaya and Chola. On the left register is an Uru Chipaya fisherwoman and on the contrary is an woman of the Andes, more commonly referred to as a chola, cloaked in fabric design with a variety of colors that embedded in the construction of cholets, and she is protected by the Condor prophet, the most representative bird of the Altiplano. The upper center section of this work portrays Indigenous dwelling of the Urú Chipayas sourced from local and vernacular materials. This also counters the bottom center section that displays the city of El Alto boldly positioned in front of the snowcapped Wayna Potosí mountain range. El Alto is where the majority of the inhabitants are immigrants and descendants of from the Aymara Peoples. With the progression of time, a style of domestic artictecturhe, called Choles, was popularized and which derived from the word Chola, which is the original skirt woman.

Artist Talk

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