"Those big buildings, you know, they look like some of the miniatures we used to make years ago. Who knows, maybe the people who own them have been faithful to the Ekeko and have asked for their houses to be built just like that." - Don Ruben
The Ekeko is the Andean god of all small things bringing abundance and prosperity to those with enough faith. El Alto is a Bolivian city that is slowly creating its own identity. The city's growth can be seen as the product of mass migration from rural and mining regions following the crisis that arose after Bolivia's neoliberal reforms in the 80's and 90's. The city's inhabitance are largely made up of indigenous Aymara people. With these populations undergoing a rapid urbanisation process, it is not surprising to find their architecture conveys their history and culture, as well as their quest to establish a hybrid identity, which is true to their roots yet adapted to their modernised setting.
Adapted text by Amaru Villanueva Rance.
Still-life models photographed by Jonathan Minster