Radio Carabuco

Andrés Pereira Paz developed the Radio Carabuco podcast station during his time at Künstlerhaus Bethanien. The project is the result of a critical reflection on the painting El Infierno (English: Hell), a work by the painter José López de los Ríos dated around 1664 which is on view in the church of the town of Carabuco on the shores of Lake Titicaca in the Bolivian Andes in La Paz, the artist’s home town.

The painting is based on a work by the French artist Philippe Thomassin (1562–1622), who specialised in making copperplate engravings from drawings by Italian painters such as Antonio Tempesta (1555–1630) and Giulio Romano (1499–1546). As was customary at the time, the Christian motif was brought to Latin America and reproduced by the Spanish colonial rulers to convert the indigenous population from their local believes to Christianity. While spreading propaganda for Catholicism’s message of salvation, representations of this kind intended to be a gesture of threat. The ominous vision of hell and purgatory was adapted to the local context by the Bolivian painter José López de los Ríos with the aim of using a universal pictorial language to intimidate and ultimately re-educate the indigenous population.

With this in mind, Pereira Paz produced a series of six podcasts that explore the methods and consequences of religious and cultural colonialism, in particular in his native Bolivia. Demonization and the suppression of everything that is perceived as the “other” or foreign are key themes of his work. Produced by Pereira Paz in collaboration with international artists, researchers and activists (Gabriel Acevedo Velarde, Ana Alenso, David Aruquipa Perez, Stanislaw Czaplicki, Elia Nurvista and Liv Schulman), the series addresses a range of subjects: the vital role played by radio in modern-day Bolivia as a source not only of information, but also as a media of expression for social movements. Further, it features a mock interview with Frauke Petry, Marine Le Pen and Matteo Salvini, a sound piece on the distribution of natural resources such as oil and gas, and a music based “testimony” of a priestess who gives an amusing account of her visit to hell. Together with Elia Nurvista, Andrés Pereira Paz also takes aim at the art world: the two artists created an audio piece in the manner of a dramatic Mexican telenovela in which Maria Mercedes, a young artist played by Elia Nurvista, tries to gain a foothold in Berlin’s booming art scene with the help of an artist-in-residence programme.

Pereira Paz’s audio installation is complemented by a number of brass sculptures that are abstracted from the diabolical figures of the El Infierno painting. In addition, the artist created various textile objects and combined them with whips – readymade authoritarian insignia worn by indigenous Bolivian dignitaries until today. The accompanying image archive shows pictures of the Chinas Morenas transvestites who were part of Bolivian popular/pagan festivities from the 60s to the 80s, until the dictatorial government of Hugo Bánzer Suarez banned them on account of their otherness in 1985.

Pereira Paz explores whether the traditional Western idea of “hell” can be a symbolic place of active resistance against propaganda, censorship and discrimination that should be defended tooth and nail, given that earth and underworld do not connote death and destruction in traditional Bolivian culture. Rather, the “Pachamama” stands for Mother Earth, the eternal giver of life.

You may listen the audios from the installation at