11 Dec, 2019 | BX Team
Photo: Nick Somers − Past Intern
Cover Issue #73
In 2014, the city of La Paz was named one of the Seven New Urban Wonders of the World by the New7Wonders Foundation. This global distinction came after a long and hard-fought campaign spearheaded by the city government and local citizens. It remains a badge of honour for us, as well as a central theme of the city’s efforts to bolster tourism. This award is both a boon to, and result of, La Paz’s emergence onto the world stage.
The attention given to the city is not unwarranted. The teleférico system has revolutionised transport here, for citizens and guests alike. The city’s gastronomic reputation is gaining renown as new restaurants, cafés and bars are focusing on local ingredients to create a distinct modern cuisine. The arts in this city are gaining more and more support as musicians and theatres receive more recognition abroad and more support locally, and the walls of the city come to life with bright murals by local artists. The list of ways in which La Paz is evolving, both culturally and economically, sometimes seems endless.
Such recognition as bestowed on La Paz in the past few years does not come without work. While a city may grow and improve organically in some ways, gaining attention from abroad does take planning and coordination. A lot of thought has gone into how La Paz presents itself, and what this presentation means. In some ways, its identity is carefully crafted, honed (albeit in a decentralised way) to put the city’s best face forward. Much like a person carefully shaping their identity through edited posts and rehearsed smiles on social media, performance is the name of the game, as the city creates a more modern and trendy image and shares it with the world.
We want to look at performance as a way to understand the things happening around us. In La Paz, as anywhere, people are performing every day: in the street, on stages, in work meetings, at social functions. The clothes we wear, the words we use, the actions we take, all put forward representations of who we are, or at least who we want to be. In this issue of Bolivian Express, we take a look at the people, organisations, and places around us, and explore the relationships between who or what they are, how they present themselves, and how we see and interpret them. By looking at Bolivia in this way, we refuse to take things at face value and commit to digging deeper to make sense of why things are shown as they are.
We look at traditional performers, and what they put into their craft, from standup comedians to Bolivian K-pop fanatics. We visit the Conservatorio Plurinacional de Música to review the state of opera and classical music in Bolivia, and spend an afternoon with Juan Carlos Aduviri, a renown Bolivian actor honing his vision for a cinematic style that is purely alteño. And we meet a group of homeless young people living on the street and changing their lives through hip-hop. We also learn about the performance of work, and hear from Bolivian entrepreneurs to understand how they use their experiences to present innovative ideas to local and international marketplaces. And a young bartender talks about his goals for reinventing La Paz’s cocktail scene, using taste, smell (palo santo! tobacco!) and sight to create inspired and stunning drinks.
La Paz’s ascent onto the international stage is undeniable. Plenty of international attention has been paid to this city as a cultural, culinary, and general tourist destination. Hopefully this issue of Bolivian Express helps spread the word on what La Paz and the rest of Bolivia has to offer, and to encourage everyone to stop and watch the show that is life here. It is one not to be missed.
Editorial Issue #73, by WILLIAM WROBLEWSKI
Read more here: http://www.bolivianexpress.org/magazines/73