“During the whole year I’ve been working inside these urban Aymara celebrations I have seen how modernity and economic power have gained so much presence and importance for them. Some people criticise this fact, as polluting or alienating the ancient traditions and it is understandable. But perhaps it is also the only way for them to conserve some of their indigenous culture, while struggling to be accepted in a modern and globalised society”.
Manuel Seoane won 4th place in the Sinchi indigenous photocompetition 2017.
Manuel Seoane is a Bolivian photographer. He is founder and active member of the collective Fotografía Sinmotivo and has contributed to the collective’s photobooks Ensayos Fotográficos (2011), Sobre la ciudad y la mirada (2012) and Cotidiano (2016). In 2011 he won a national public call to participate as photographer in the documentary project The Journey to Heart of Bolivia, organized by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), project which later won the Elizabeth Neuffer International Prize for Journalism, awarded by the UN in New York, USA. In 2016 he won Eduardo Abaroa National Prize of Arts and Freddy Alborta Municipal Contest, the most important contests of photography in his country. This year he was shortlisted for the Lucie Foundation Scholarship for emerging photographers and selected finalist of IILA-Fotografía award, part of the FOTOGRAFIA – Festival Internazionale di Roma.
The Queen of Fraternidad Real Sociedad de La Paz (La Paz Royal Society)
One last meal before the party begins
3rd Runner up: Manuel Seoane (Bolivia) – The idea of celebration varies very much between cultures. For the Aymara indigenous culture from the Bolivian Andes, for example, there is a certain time meant-to-be for festivity. During the last 10 years, a big emerging economic elite formed by some of these migrant communities in La Paz has brought such traditional events to the urban environment and introduced to them a unique self-interpretation of fashion and modernity, in order to be recognized and accepted as part of a new higher social status. Through their most important celebration, the Fiesta del Preste, they foresee an opportunity to reaffirm their rural roots while literally show off openly their new urban success, expressed mainly through ostentation and excess. This project tries to explore and discover the distinctive meanings of such idea of celebration inside urbanized Aymara culture; a distinctive symbol of tradition but also modernity and success, two views apparently contrary. Only in La Paz city, more than 800 of these popular festivities are celebrated every year (averaging 2.2 per day).
Moreno dancer poses with his whip (a modern version of aymara’s kimsa charani) at the gates of the church
Dancers arriving to their party chalet
During the whole year I’ve been working inside these urban Aymara celebrations I have seen how modernity and economic power have gained so much presence and importance for them. Some people criticise this fact, as polluting or alienating the ancient traditions and it is understandable. But perhaps it is also the only way for them to conserve some of their indigenous culture, while struggling to be accepted in a modern and globalised society’
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