Throughout the year in Bolivia, craftsmen and ordinary citizens create miniatures to be sold in the streets of La Paz
during the annual Alasitas festival.
The miniatures are of food,
cars, homes, building tools, computers, diplomas, condoms; all human needs and desires may be purchased for a nominal fee by any who
wish to acquire the reality that the miniature represents.
A tradition of the Aymara community of the Andes,
the central idea of the event is Exchange. You cannot, for example, make a
miniature of your own. Rather, you acquire one through exchange, i.e., in this
day and age, the exchange of money. After a miniature is bought, it must be
blessed, by a shaman (yatiri), a Catholic priest, or both, as this an indigenous ritual that has been absorbed into the local Catholic lexicon.
The miniatures are “carried” under the protective
auspices of the Ekeko, a pre-Columbian god of good fortune and abundance. The
Ekeko’s generative powers activate the miniature in his care, in exchange for
favors (such as cigarettes, alcohol) from the person who keeps his image.
The filmmaker is an artist and a Jungian psychoanalyst in training. She grew
up in Peru, studied at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and now lives in NYC.