The River and The Devil

Paula Almiron


It is said that in colonial times, in the Bolivian Andean plain, settlers labeled the Desaguadero River as devilish, as an evil body of water. By calling the river “the devil,” they wanted to turn it into a place to be avoided, destroyed, and extracted. The accumulation of centuries of continued destruction and extraction resulted in the continued desertification of the Desaguadero River; the transformation of her body from water into salt.

In The River and The Devil, Paula Almiron hosts a choreographic reading space in which a circulation of words, sounds, gestures and objects embodies and imagines the ruins of a disappearing river. What kind of (life) forms can arise in a salt ruin? How can we collectively imagine the living world in a constantly changing environment?

The River and The Devil is a semi-fictional choreography in which the Devil appears as the guardian of the river. Can we learn from the Devil’s power as a tool for resilience? Where has the Devil gone now that the water is gone?

Is the Devil in fact the ruin we are left with? Going to the river was forbidden, but the people disobeyed and kept going…