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Bolivia
Elvira Espejo Ayca

Elvira Espejo Ayca
Elvira Espejo Ayca | © Michael Dunn (detail)

Elvira Espejo Ayca, born in 1981 in Bolivia, is the Director of the National Museum of Ethnography and Folklore (MUSEF) in La Paz as well as being an artist - a poet, essayist, musician and weaverArtist 

The Goethe Medal Committee honours Elvira Espejo Ayca as a

true builder of bridges, whose work constitutes invaluable cultural mediation: between Latin America and Europe, between Bolivia and its colonial past, between countries’ own indigenous traditions and other cultures, between artistic disciplines and generations. It is in her engagement with ambivalence that she develops her unique creative energy.

Elvira Espejo Ayca, born in 1981 in the province of Avaroa in the department of Oruro in Bolivia, grew up in an indigenous village community. From an early age, she rebelled against the tradition and convention that excluded her from higher education and precluded her from obtaining a professional qualification. Her decision to pursue her education and career led her to break with her family and her village. In 2004 she studied art at the Academia de Bellas Artes Hernando Siles in La Paz. She has never forgotten her indigenous roots, and weaves them continually through her work and her projects. In 2005 she co-lectured on unwritten Andean languages for the Duke en los Andes programme, working with musician Álvaro Montenegro to record traditional songs and dialogues on indigenous and urban musical instruments. From 2010 to 2011 she was a contributor to the Das Potosí Prinzip exhibition at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt cultural centre in Berlin, which subsequently toured in Spain and Bolivia. She then joined the Board of Directors for the Institute of Aymaran Languages and Culture (ILCA) and became Director of the National Museum of Ethnography and Folklore (MUSEF) in La Paz, turning it into one of the most important cultural centres in Bolivia.

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