Gabbi Escobar

What we left behind

This project comes from observing the changes on my surroundings. While growing up, understanding how humans adapted to challenging environments fascinated me.

Deeper in my learning, I have found that Landscape Archaeology studies how landscapes change and evolve over time; it focuses on the way humans not just adapted but also impacted landscapes through time.

I have concluded that the way we change and adapt the places and landscapes we live in over the course of our lives, creates a sort of biography on the landscape. We leave behind a record not just of our activities but also of our attitudes and values.

What started as a small personal research project, soon became a much bigger endeavour. 

My work describes a geographical area and tells its history. I created a chronology as the main element to navigate through this landscape. It starts with how the area was geologically formed, and because of its properties, shows how the exploitation of natural resources changed it. 

Aerial view of the accessing road to the ‘Lago Milluni’

 The dry land of the Bolivian Altiplano somehow matches the strong colour of the lake. At the bottom right, a few llamas are crossing the lake.

This component of the project displays the contemporary time or Anthropocene Period; these are the consequences of what humans have done here to survive.

I quote Sebastião Salgado to explain what I try to illustrate here: “The highly industrialized world is racing ahead and stumbling over the future…[it is]…the result of the work of people throughout the world, although in practice it may benefit few. The developed world produces only for those who can consume-approximately one-fifth of all people. The remaining four-fifths, who could theoretically benefit from surplus production, have noway of becoming consumers. The destiny of men and women is to create a new world, to reveal a new life, to remember that there exists a frontier for everything except dreams. In this way, they adapt, resist, believe, and survive.” 

In the background named in local language Aimara the glacier “Huayna Potosí”, which means ‘The YoungMountain’. In front lies the Milluni Cementery. In 1965, unionized miners were on strike due against the military coup. The miners established an opposition base against the new Bolivian government, even operating a radio station that broadcasted what was happening to nearby La PazCity. The government (it was one of the many military dictatorships in Bolivia’s history) sent in troops, tanks and bombers, perpetrating the “Massacre of Milluni” on 24 May 1965.