The Exxcentric Winds [work in progress]

The Exxcentric Winds. [work in progress]

Location: Santa Ana de Chipaya, Bolivia

Duration: 2019-2021, or more.

 

SUMMARY

“The Exxcentric Winds” is an on-going aural inquiry into the extraordinary qualities of several winds that flows in-between the frontiers of Chile and Bolivia. These winds have been described by the oral tradition of a small ethnic group called the Uru-Chipayans, in the desert of Bolivia.
As a semi nomad society, the Chipayans followed these air routes over vast territories, in order to exchange and transport natural resources. The tales of the winds–currently under extinction–served as a sensorial, geographical and spiritual guidance to the traveller.
For the Uru-Chipaya, the winds have their own humanized personalities; they would enact bizarre adventures in the company of humans and animals. As active members of their society, the winds would eat, “have ears”, rest, or satisfy their sexual desires, they have relatives and even are able to marry a human.
This highly complex relationship with nature–including people and other species– is highly mediated by the Chiapayan’s aural cosmovision. The way they interact with these alterities, by listening and speaking to them, has been instrumental in how they have constituted their society and ecological subsistence.
“The Exxcentric Winds” conceptual framework is highly informed by indigenous forms of aural expressions. Based on contemporary Andean customs and pre-Colombian records, I attempt to sketch a model of auditory communication between humans and the winds. A set of conceptual, verbal and corporeal considerations that can guide us to converse with nature and others today.
As an experiential proposal, the project operates mostly in the desert of Bolivia and Chile, by walking with people, animals and the winds, across foreign cultures and territories.

Hopefully, The re-activation of this archaic, communicational technology could provide an alternative example on how natural resources can be accessed and administrated nowadays. The visibilization of the Uru-Chipayan’s territorial knowledge, on distant geographies (much greater than the ones they have been currently displaced), can help to enrich the limited view on indigenous mobility, but more importantly, this project could also produce an additional argument to the current Chipayan’s struggle for the recuperation of their forcibly taken lands

What follows, are the questions, stories, history, context, challenges, dreams and incomplete ideas that animates the past and future of “The Exxcentric Winds”.

 

BACKGROUND

One of the most renowned creational myths in the Andean world affirms that the Uru-Chipayans (people from the water) are the descendants of a pre-solar population. Archaeologically, its origins have been calculated in between, 2000 and 1500 years B.C. (Wachtel 1994). This constituted the Urus as the most ancient ethnic group, with the oldest language in the region.

As Semi-nomads, hunters, fisherman’s, and gatherers, the Uru-Chipayans occupied a vast territory animated by the need for natural resources, their walk traced vast distances, from the Andean high plateau until the pacific coast, reaching the neighboring countries of Chile and Peru. (Muñoz and Lazaro 2015)
The natives of Chipaya currently speaks three languages, Chipay-taku, Aymara and Spanish.

In the Chipayan worldview, the winds have been fundamental in the way they constituted themselves through transitory lands.
Thami (winds), are weather indicators, knowing about their behavior, the good and bad news they bring to their agriculture is essential. Additionally, they served as navigational conductors, providing spiritual and geographical guidance to the “passenger” as they call to the Chipayan travellers. (Cereceda 2010)

In between 1982 and 1984, Lilianne Porterie has collected a series of oral myths that described the complex topographical narrative traced by the winds, These stories illustrate spectacular interactions between the winds, animals, and humans.

Generally humanized, the winds are considered active members of the Chipayan society. Within these oral myths, the winds will help, eat, rest, drink, eat ass, and have sex, in specific places, across hundreds of kilometers, flowing around mountains, lakes, and unmarked places.

THE URU-CHIPAYAN’S PATHS

The transitional culture of the Uru-Chipayans have motivated other sedentary indigenous cultures, and later dominant cultures such as the Spanish colony, to call them “savages” or primitives (Mamani 1991). This derogatory term carries hundreds of years of oppression that eventually end up displacing them to the driest, most harsh areas in the desert of Bolivia.

The city of Santa Ana de Chipaya, located at the southwest of the Altiplano desert at 3600 meters above sea level, is the oldest living Uru-Chipayan’s settlement. In these extreme conditions, the Chipayans have developed extraordinary methods of survival, skilfully administrating their natural resources. Currently, their greatest diaspora is located in Chile. Nowadays, they are the main economical support sustaining the precarious conditions of the citizens of Chipaya. (Riveros et al., 2018)
On 2008, Bolivia has modified its constitution to become a state composed of 36 indigenous nations. On 2009, [1] The Uru-Chipayans have started their process to also become a determined government, a project that has been recognized by the new Bolivian constitution, however, not by the Chilean state. [2] The primordial political agendas of the Uru-Chipayans today voices issues of territorial isolation, land recuperation, migrational status, and the reposition of their deviated water sources.

[1] Political Constitution of Bolivia (CPE), 7 de Febrero, 2009, online version. https://bolivia.infoleyes.com/norma/469/constitución-política-del-estado-cpe

[2] Bolivian Ministry of Autonomies, (2015). Estatuto de la autonomia originaria de la nacion Uru-Chipaya, Bolivia:CES.

 

MY PATH AND THE URU-CHIPAYANS

I am a Chilean mestizo, I have been living in Chipaya for a couple of months now. Even though I am a brown male, I’m usually called Choco (White).
Apparently, my indigenous appearance seems not as evident.
Since the majority of the Uru-Chipayan’s diaspora is located in Chile, their attitude to Chileans is very warm, unlike the normal disposition they have to other Bolivian ethnicities.

We share the same language, unfortunately, the Colonial one. Even though I have started to learn their native tong Chipay-Taku, I’m still unable to use it. This, I believe, greatly challenge my understanding of the Chipayan’s life together with limiting their trust to what I am doing.
Nevertheless, I’m sure with the pass of time, the months, the years, this will improve.

 

THE WINDS NEVER GO ALONE BY THEMSELVES.
Few days ago, I was talking to a friend that was working as an anthropologist in Pampas de Aullagas, another nearby Uru settlement. He said:

“I had to walk for hours in the desert to find one particular farmer I needed to interview, one time I thought I was reaching a lake, cause I saw water at a distance.
“Following the water, I got lost!, Fortunately, I reached the farmer!”
She said,
“There is not water over there!, that was only a mirage!.
“In order to avoid the mirage, you should talk at loud!.
I asked!,
“To whom!!, she didn’t say!.. “

The Andean cosmovision is normally divided into two opposite worlds, black and white, male and female, dry and wet, alive and dead. Even though this is not rigid and exclusive model it is widely permeated across the Andean cultures, including the Uru-Chipayans. (Astvaldsson 2000).
A dialogical interaction is normally fostered, a partner that provides an alterity that represents an opposite force.

Chix’xi (grey, stained) according to Aymaran decent Scholar, Silvia Rivera Cusicanqui accounts for contradiction, a symbolic resource that allows the Andean culture to move forward in the face of antagonistic positions, a conciliatory space that allows two opposite forces to live together without Pä Chuyma, (a broken, divided heart).
Rather than being a philosophical device, Chix’xi is a world-vision incarnated in nature, in the bodies of stained animals or in mestizos–like myself– people with both western and indigenous blood.

Chix’xi, works as an alternative to a dialectic, western form of solving conflict, is a dualistic glue that allows, two–otherwise incompatible elements– to survive and complement each other.
This undetermined force is always two at the same time, a constant conversation, without an end and without crowning a final master.
“The Exxcentric winds”, use this meeting space, as a conversational methodology to face some of the most seemingly antagonistic parts of this proposal. Whenever we might need to entangle, inform or validate two dissimilar assemblages such as migration vs erotism, we might use a Chix’xi conversational space.

CONVERSATION IN THE ANDEAN WORLD:
guaman poma llama comp[3]

 

The Uru-Chipayans have been greatly influenced by their neighbors (the Aymaras). Both of these cultures share similar creational myths; In these stories, the appearance of the sun is considered a force that was both destructive and creative, the mountains and rivers were formed with spectacular noises, sirens (the muses of music) had mouths to sing and the animals were able to talk.

In the Aymaran oral tradition, the spirits of water inspired the sound of musical instruments and the voices of female singers. The spirits of the winds, birds, the breath and sound itself, helped to blow the rivers and complete the orchestration of their ancient world. (Arnold and Yapita 2006)

The ability to speak, sing, and communicate with other entities are considered fundamental to the constitution of all the Andean Cultures. Many of these myths are being constantly, and dynamically transported through generations by their oral traditions.

[3] Drawing 124, The oldest chronicles of the precolombian Andean world accounted by an indigenous, on 1614., Fest of the Incas, Araui, Song of the Inca. According to Guaman Poma, The Inca sings with his llama, imitating its sound “yn”. This imitation tunes the voices of the rest of the participants that join in by singing in a high but soft voice.

 

ORAL MATERIALITY

 

los vientos
The winds, drawing made by Martin Quispe, resident of Chipaya, 1980.

In the Andean cultures, the place of expression of men is located in the head and is inspired by the Wak’as, ancient ritualistic stones that have the ability to cry and to provide the sonic gift of talking. (Astvaldsson 1994).

According to Denisse Arnold, women would occupy singing and weaving as their places of expression which can also be interchangeable. Voices can be woven into a fabric as well as a fabric can represent singing. (Arnold and Yapita 2006)

Since weaving can also be considered a proto form of writing or Arche-Writing (Derrida 1976), much of the vast textile cultures in the Andes represent their own codes, their own words and symbolic forms of interpretation. It is common to find textiles being represented as bodies, weavings with heads and mouths that can “speak” complex ideas, to the ones that know how to read them. (Cereceda 1975)

Singing and weaving as expressions of the female knowledge, incorporate both mind and body to these systems of meaning.
We borrow the concept of “Synaesthesia” from Devisch (1993) to characterize this system of knowledge in which sensation penetrates multiple levels of the experience. If I were to characterize this as a philosophical system, I would remove it away from the mentalist position so to return it to the roots of philosophy, “the love of wisdom”, in a more sensual form. (Arnold and Yapita 1998)

“We have to meditate very well, before having a conversation..
We have to organize very well the fabric of ideas..
The shafts have to be well put to maneuver the textile mouth.
And we have to fix well the weaving to the consistence of persuasion. “

Aymaran conversation listened by Zacarias Alavi, Achiri, Pacajes. My own translation.
(Arnold and Yapita 1998).

In these high Andean lands, distinct forms of human communication cannot be clearly isolated, they seem to be always in relation to different “levels of expressions”, different interchangeable mediums that cannot be easily reduced.

If weaving can happen within the entanglements of fabric, can a conversation also appear in the entanglement of winds? In the traces they left on the sand? Or vice versa?
What other forms of conversation can be explored in the landscapes of the winds, in-between our breaths and them?

 

TALKING TO WINDS AS TALKING TO OURSELVES

In Chipaya, the winds are people, and they are treated as such.
Since they have ears, they can hear and be called.

Soqo Pawlu, is a strong wind, the most naughty of them. When it is too violent and threatens to disrupt the Quinoa fields, a ceremony needs to be prepared in order to trap it. The entire preparation has to be whispered so this wind does not eavesdrop what the Uru-Chipayans are planning.

They start by meeting in the local church and tell ancient stories about the winds (this will entertain and seduce Soqo Pawlu).
Once its presence is felt nearby, someone will shout: now! and the locals will run against the wind so to hold it in plastic bags. The bags filled with coca leafs, will feed the wind meanwhile is trapped.
Finally, the aired bags are held for months in the church, only when the wind is kept hostage, they will talk to it, using a soft, tender voice, as if addressing an immature teenager. (Cereceda 2010)

“you will not keep running”,
“here you will be alright!, with calm you will be”

Voice recordings Veronica Cereceda made in 1990.

This type of conversation seems to be very straight forward, as a normal type of verbal communication will occur between an Uru-Chipayan and one of their beloved, impulsive child.
This ceremony, as well as many others, is configured with a determined ritual structure. In this case, the unstable Soqo-Pawlu requires to be encountered with a type of sensibility, with a tone of voice that expresses the necessary care this relationship requires for the performance to be successful.

According to the Uru-Chipayan oral stories, the winds behave differently in specific places, For example, the winds will be born–with the color and shape of feces–in the coast of Iquique (Chile),. Later, one of them will rest on La Tirana, (Chile) and another one would dance and run in Sibaya (Chile) (Cereceda 2010)

Different wind performances happening in specific places, provides a topographical script of sensibilities. In the places they rest, a quiet acoustic exchange should be protected, where they run, whispering might be necessary if trapping them is required.
This geographical narrative may assist this proposal to articulate diverse styles of vocal or sonic interactions with the winds.

 

TRANSCULTURAL TALK

I like to think about conversation as being much more fluid, digressive, erotic and unstable than dialogue. To me, it seems much more appropriate to think about it as a suitable tool to whirlpool, many of the kaleidoscopic dimensions of “The Exxcentric Winds”, especially when we think about this form of verbal communication in a transcultural context.

Without insisting on the idealisms of conversation as a clear exchange of symbols, and language as a succinct path for self-representation. We can talk about it, as a creative process of partially ambiguous interpretations between hearing and talking.

According to Paul Carter, a type of proto-communication can be created when we lack a shared, “straight forward” language. This relational “auditory space” can allow us to interact with alien symbols, whether these are employed by people or other species.

What allows this communication to happen is the mere desire for encounter, an empathic prescription that operates beyond language. The acoustic interferences happening outside and the misinterpretations happening inside of us, are the creative forces of this encounter. The hierarchy of “the need to be clearly understood” is then exceeded by “the need for contact”.

From an oral point of view, The voice of our desire, its seductive gestures and its semiotic incompetence, is what I believe can organize more properly, the verbal expectations of walking in different nations, cultures and habits. I’m thinking about a type of a conversational trajectory that is not expecting only linear interpretations or only peripatetic dynamics. Since it is not uniquely in the service of the intellect, these itinerant exchanges rather promotes empathy, resonance or the individual desire to identifying ourselves with something that is different from us.

In conclusion, it seems to me that I’m trying to explore two planes of conversation here. One that is horizontal and another one, more asymmetrical. The first one, accounts for a type of verbal interaction with the Chipayans and the winds, a conversation that assumes the winds are just another Chipaya. Here, a style of speaking can be geographically staged, as mentioned before, according to the personalities and functions of the winds.

The second form of conversation is more unstable and requires a shift of interpretation and a fine-tuning of our expectations.

This conversational attitude might need the suspension of our assumptions and our dearly hold certainties (which can always produce a healthy amount of disruption to our inner structures).
It might also involve the internalization of antagonistic voices, different world-views and different languages settled in alien countries.

The sentient jargon I’m attempting to draw apparently falls in these two specular, or inverted categories of interpretation. One that is more linear towards the winds and another one, more volatile, between humans.

When we converse with others there is always a possibility to be overwhelmed by the other’s unexpected world, this type of contact can always express to us the limits of our identity and the limits of our understanding. (Levinas 1961)

 

PRACTICE

At this point, much of my time is dedicated to talk and get to know the Chipayans. At the same time, I spend long hours walking in the desert, learning about the physical characteristics of the winds, their personalities and trying to shape the affects I built around them.

Next, I will join more Chipayan transhumance walks and start arranging additional ones with other non-Chipayan participants.
These travels would be the most important formative parts of this proposal, they can work as a workshop for the people not familiarised with these myths–including local Uru-Chipayans. By this time, a conversational, topographical guide should be outlined.

 

INSTRUMENTALISATION
The Chipayans have been called the “living mommies” of the desert, (Wachtel 2001) due to their ancient language and customs. This puristic, ethnographically classic view of the Chipayans have help to limit their dynamic forms of adaptation and contemporaneity.

The Uru-Chipayans are actually in constant transit with different cultures, and radically different industrialized countries such as Chile. This transit have pushed them to be in constant socio-cultural adjustment.
In this sense, “The Exxcentric Winds” can also provide a refreshing optic to how to the Chipayans are normally perceived, which is either from an essentialist posture of museum statues–in the need to be conserved–or as miserable indigenous people that need to be rescued.

In any case, the Uru-Chipayan’s political interests are clear, there are territorial and ecological (Riveros et al., 2018 ). This probably cannot be avoided and this project might be instrumentalized in that direction, as mentioned before, by visualizing the extension of their geographical knowledge.

Still, at this stage is impossible to delineate the final form of this project. I can still dream about a place that motley voices can live together–even if some agree or disagree with it–. I can think about some kind of compendium that is both legal and poetic, erotic and geographical, something about the past, present, and future of the Chipayans.

All of this is speculation though, the most important part of how the “The Exxcentric Winds” makes its way, will have to be shaped by building some familiarity between myself and the Uru-Chipayans, when a sense of our motivations and the limits of our goals is formed, with time.

 

FINAL CHALLENGES.

The complexity of the project is at times overwhelming and feels way beyond my abilities, especially when I think about all the voices that should be tackled.

I do not have enough experience at this point, I have not yet listened, conversed or walk enough, and this is why much of these ideas are still incomplete and why many crucial implications still rest in the dark.
For example, I glimpse issues of gender and homosexuality playing in the background of the Chipayan’s stories, this issues that are very problematic to deal with here, since most of the Andean cultures are strongly heteronormative. Maybe later, the Chix’xi might come into help.

Ariel Bustamante.

 

REFERENCES/BIBLIOGRAPHY

Astvaldsson, A. (2000). The Dynamics of Aymara Duality: Change and Continuity in Sociopolitical Structures in the Bolivian Andes. Journal of Latin American Studies, 32(1), 145–174. doi: 10.1017/s0022216x99005490

Ayala Felipe Guamán Poma de, & Hamilton, R. (2009). The first new chronicle and good government: on the history of the world and the Incas up to 1615. Austin: University of Texas Press.

Cardozo Evangelio Muñoz, & Mollo Germán Lázaro. (2015). El pueblo uru chipaya: un pueblo milenario en la historia y el presente. Cochabamba, Bolivia: FUNPROEIB Andes.

Carter, Paul. (2004) Echoic Mimicry. Ambiguous Traces, Mishearing, and Auditory Space. Hearing Cultures.NewYork: Berg

Cereceda, V. (1975). Semiología De Los Textiles Andinos: Las Talegas De Isluga. Chungará Arica, 42(1). doi: 10.4067/s0717-73562010000100029

Cereceda, V. (2010). Una extensión entre el altiplano y el mar: Relatos míticos chipaya y el norte de Chile. Arica: Estudios Atacameños, (40), 101–130. doi: 10.4067/s0718-10432010000200007

Constitución Política del Estado (CPE), Bolivia, 7 de Febrero, 2009, online version. https://bolivia.infoleyes.com/norma/469/constitución-política-del-estado-cpe

Cusicanqui, S. R. (2015). Sociología de la imagen: miradas chixi desde la historia andina. Buenos Aires: Tinta Limón.

Cusicanqui, S. R. (2018). Un mundo chixi es posible: ensayos desde un presente en crisis. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Tinta Limón.

Derrida, J., & Spivak, G. C. (1976). Of grammatology. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

Descola, P., Luley, B. P., & Godbout, G. (2013). The ecology of others. Chicago: Prickly Paradigm Press.

Levinas, Emmanuel. (1969). Totality and Infinity. Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press

Mamani Condori, Carlos (1991). Los aymaras frente a la historia. La Paz, Aruwiyiri.

Massumi, B. (2016). Politics of affect. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Métraux, Alfred (1931), “Un mundo perdido. La tribu de los Chipayas de Carangas”. Buenos Aires

Ministery of Autonomies, (2015). Estatuto de la autonomia originaria de la nacion Uru-Chipaya, Bolivia:CES.

Montellano, Bernabé, Mansilla. (2018). Informe sobre Cultura y Turismo en Chipaya, La Paz:CEBEM

Porterie, Liliane. (1990). Documentos para el estudio de la lengua chipaya. Amerindia 15. 156-191.

Riveros, Zilvetty, Campos, Rivera, Pachaguaya (2018), Sistematización de la experiencia migratoria de la población Chipaya en Chile, La Paz:CEBEM

Wachtel, N. (1994). Gods and vampires return to Chipaya. Chicago: Unicersity of Chicago Press.

Wachtel, N. (2001). El regreso de los antepasados: los indios Urus de Bolivia, del siglo 20. al 16.: ensayo de historia regresiva. México: Colegio de México.

 

ORAL DOCUMENTATION

Porterie L & Martin Quispe. (1982). El viento y el zorro, III-5, http://celia.cnrs.fr, online documents, Fonds Liliane Porterie Gutiérrez sur la langue chipaya, Paris

Porterie L & Martin Quispe. (1982). Dos hermanos pasajeros, III-8, http://celia.cnrs.fr, online audio documents, Fonds Liliane Porterie Gutiérrez sur la langue chipaya, Paris

Porterie L & Martin Quispe. (1982). Los cuatro caballeros, IV-5, http://celia.cnrs.fr, online audio documents, Fonds Liliane Porterie Gutiérrez sur la langue chipaya, Paris

Porterie L & Martin Quispe. (1982). El viento y las vicuñas, IV-7, http://celia.cnrs.fr, online audio documents, Fonds Liliane Porterie Gutiérrez sur la langue chipaya, Paris

Porterie L & Martin Quispe. (1982). La adoracion al viento, IV-8, http://celia.cnrs.fr, online audio documents, Fonds Liliane Porterie Gutiérrez sur la langue chipaya, Paris

Porterie L & Martin Quispe. (1982). El viento con bonifacio, VII-6, http://celia.cnrs.fr, online audio documents, Fonds Liliane Porterie Gutiérrez sur la langue chipaya, Paris

Porterie L & Martin Quispe. (1982). La llama, VII-2, http://celia.cnrs.fr, online audio documents, Fonds Liliane Porterie Gutiérrez sur la langue chipaya, Paris

Porterie L & Martin Quispe. (1982). El conflict con los Aymaras, VIII-2, http://celia.cnrs.fr, online audio documents, Fonds Liliane Porterie Gutiérrez sur la langue chipaya, Paris