Freddy Mamani

Born 1971, Aroma, Bolivia
Lives and works La Paz, Bolivia

Museum of Contemporary Art


Diablada, 2024
wood coated in gloss enamel

Salon Gallo de Oro, 2024

Commissioned by the Biennale of Sydney and the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain.
Courtesy the artist and

For the past 15 years, Aymaran architect Freddy Mamani has been designing and building Cholets, a combination of the French word chalet and cholo, a reappropriated term once used to disparage those of indigenous descent in Bolivia. Interrupting the monotony of the existing cityscape with his vibrant and distinct neo-Andean style, each Cholet recalls the colours, designs and patterning unique to the Aymara culture. The title Diablada, in particular, recalls the Danza de los Diablos, an Andean cultural dance characterised by performers wearing carnivalesque costumes of trickster devil characters.

Neo-Andean architecture largely emerged during the presidency, from 2006 to 2019, of Evo Morales, who was Bolivia’s first indigenous leader in the country’s 200-year history. It can be seen as a consequence of both his economic policies, which empowered a generation of Aymara business people, and of the sense of pride he instilled in the country’s indigenous majority.

Designed specifically for the needs of the Aymaran people, each Cholet is three to seven storeys high and follows the same essential layout; the ground floor is dedicated to commercial activities, the middle floors to cultural events, while the upper floors are residences. In this way, each Cholet develops and sustains its own economy. As Mamani says, ‘this architecture has its own language, its own culture, its own identity’.

Freddy Mamani is a self-taught architect from Bolivia who is known for creating the Neo-Andean style of architecture. His buildings are colourful, ornate and inspired by the culture of the Aymara , the Indigenous people of the Andes. He mainly works in El Alto, a city above La Paz, where he has built more than 70 structures, called cholets, that serve as homes, businesses and community spaces for the new social class of wealthy Indigenous Bolivians. Mamani’s architecture has been praised for its originality, cultural identity and social impact.

Read more about the 24th Biennale of Sydney, Ten Thousand Suns, by purchasing the catalogue here.