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Bolivian Mennonites / Lisa Wiltse

May 2012


Exhibit opening, screening, & talk

Tuesday May 15, 2012, 7:30 PM
Moderated by Anna Van Lenten, Half King Photo Series curator

When I visited the Mennonites of Manitoba, Bolivia, a tension pervaded the colony, although life was as it had been for centuries. Roughly 150 kilometers northeast of Santa Cruz, the colony’s 2,000 residents owe their prosperity to strict social discipline and traditions closely guarded against outside influences. Modern conveniences are avoided. Children study only High German, math, and religion. Around puberty, they leave to join their fathers in the fields and factories, or their mothers at home and hearth. Other forms of work are forbidden to women, who speak Low German and are discouraged from learning Spanish--unlike men, who travel to Santa Cruz for trade. Over the course of my stay, I would discover how their social mores bound them to silence just when speaking out was most needed.


LISA WILTSE was born in Connecticut and graduated from the Art Institute of Boston with a BFA in photography. She has documented the everyday life of marginalized communities in such places as Bangladesh, Uganda, Philippines, Bolivia, New Zealand, and the U.S. Currently based in NYC, she is a contributor with Getty Reportage. “Bolivian Mennonites” is the first showing of this project in the U.S.


All photos © Lisa Wiltse.

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