27.04.2023
67 MIN
Spanish

Son[i]a #371
Elvira Espejo Ayca

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Son[i]a #371

Elvira Espejo Ayca (Ayllu Qaqachaca, 1981) is an indigenous artist, weaver, writer, poet and researcher. Her work brings to light collective strategies that resist ‘monoculturalization’, moving back and forth between the rural and urban, between ancestral practices and the colonial gaze, between the sentipensamiento (feeling-thinking) of indigenous peoples and the predominance of academic Eurocentrism.

After studying the vehement rejection of ancestral technologies in Western academia, Elvira listened to the words of her grandfather and set about reinstating the transmission of knowledge and education that had been rendered invisible in the community. When she became director of the National Museum of Ethnography and Folklore in La Paz (Bolivia), she coordinated the reclaiming of the silenced voices of the indigenous nations in the museum’s collections by meticulously updating its catalogues in a way that defied the ‘in-sensitivity’ of academia, which is still to this day at the service of colonial epistemic extractivism. Based on the linguistic structures of  Aymara, Quechua and Guaraní, the cultural goods and objects in the collection have been restored to their place of enunciation: the warp and weft where their voices can be heard. In this emancipatory journey, the non-human can once again speak in codes for understanding a world linked to the ‘mutual nurture’ of animals, plants, and the arts that gave them life. Intense discussions with indigenous and peasant weavers and makers brought up idea of authorship, confronting the cult of individuality and academic egocentrism. This generated multiple decolonial strategies that question the authority of curators and scholars in order to establish a polyphonic authorship with a connection to a linguistic, geographic, and affective territory.

In this podcast, we talk with Elvira Espejo Ayca about the highs and lows of breaking with the hierarchies of Western knowledge in an art institution, as we witness the ‘deployment of connectivities’ sweeping through museums. We take a deep dive into the actions of a museum in search of mutual understanding and respect, while weaving and reweaving the historical gaps and bridges between two worlds.

Conversation: Violeta Ospina, Ricardo Cárdenas, Noela Covelo and Anna Ramos. Script, sound production and voice over: Violeta Ospina.
Son[i]a Creative Commons decolonialism Decolonising the museum Elvira Espejo Ayca indigenous movements weavers
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We dig up some unreleased fragments of the conversation with artist, weaver, writer, poet and indigenous researcher Elvira Espejo Ayca that we were unable to include the first time around. We talked about the flow of linguistic structures and writing processes, introducing the notion of “oraliture” and the importance of the rhythm of song in the exchanges that take place in her community.

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