An unique documentation of an ancient sacrificial ritual in the visiondivision designed chapel in Potosi, Bolivia. See http://thegoldbrain.blogspot.com/2008/06/capilla-para-el-tio.html for more information.
Capilla para el Tio was by far the most physically challenging project we ever done so far.
The project took five days to complete and was extremely demanding and dangerous.
We couldn’t work while the miners were inside of the mountain because we couldn’t be an obstruction for them in the narrow passages, and at some periods of the building process we definitely would have annoyed them if we would have been there at the same time. When we detonated our dynamite for example or spray painted the cave with highly toxic paint, which was the only alternative in this remote and underdeveloped part of the world.
The only time when the mine was empty was at night time, so we had to cope with extreme cold which in combination with the altitude on 4200 meters makes you uncomfortable. Luckily we had the coca leaves, hard liquor and a great companion in our Bolivian guide and dynamite specialist.
Half of the time we spend in the mines was to give our respect to the older Tio inside of the mine.
We had to offer him great amounts of coca leaves, cigarettes, liquor, and we also had to drink to his name.
Inhaling all that toxic paint inside of a mine is of course not good for you, especially if your only protection is a coffee filter for your mouth. We both got very sick after this project but we are proud and happy that we built it.
We came in contact with a professional sculptor that were supposed to do the Tio, but something came up and he couldn’t deliver it in time, we therefore contracted a local woman who at first didn’t want to do the Tio because she thought it was an inappropriate motive, but after some raise in her salary, she accepted.
To sit next to the hardworking miners on the opening party of the chapel and see how they gave offerings to the new Tio and thanked us for the project, was a great reward after all our efforts put into this project.
Some people haven’t fully understood this project, rejecting it as something trashy, and not belonging to the stylish family of architecture perhaps. We can clearly see that it is hard in a western world to fully take it in if you are not aware of the circumstances.
But sitting in this highest located chapel in the world with your fellow miners, imbedded in a spellbinding red color that glitters in the light of the headlamps, as a contrast to all the blackness and misery in the cave, is a profound experience that you almost cannot feel in the developed world nowadays.