Imágenes paceñas: The Wizard of the Modern City of La Paz


  • Tara Daly Marquette University
  • Raquel Alfaro University of Rochester



Imágenes paceñas, Jaime Saenz, magic, montage, photography


In this essay we disentangle what Jaime Saenz conceives of as the “magic” of La Paz as elaborated in Imágenes paceñas. We analyze magic from three complementary angles. First, we focus on the relationship between magic and unease. This take on magic is associated in the text, in an unexplicit and tangential way, with non-Western culture; that is, the Aymara indigenous. Our second point of entry intersects the first. The version of La Paz that Saenz depicts is moved by unfamiliar cultural forces. As a consequence, it is a product of, and produces, a distinct form of inhabiting characterized by a temporality that troubles that of modernity; this, too, results in a sense of magic. Finally, in our third approach to magic, we analyze the tensions derived from the visual and written registers Saenz combines in this text. In the montage forged between text and photography, writing is employed to maintain somewhat hidden, and for that reason alive, the magical aspects of the city. And so, the author is in part a magician: he reveals something only to distract, all in the name of protecting the very conditions that enable his art.



Author Biographies

Tara Daly, Marquette University

Associate Professor of Spanish, Co-Director of the Center for Race, Ethnicity, and Indigeneity 

Raquel Alfaro, University of Rochester

Visiting Assistant Professor of Spanish