Press release | Culture | 13. February 2020

Tracing the footprints of failed modernity in Guadalajara 2019/20

The former state library, built in 1960, once housed up to one million books. Today it is vacant.
© Moisés Mondragón

The latest ESPACIOS REVELADOS / CHANGING PLACES culture project will be on display from 6-15 March 2020 in Guadalajara (Mexico). The 20 artistic projects from 30 local, national, and international artists in 19 city locations follow a critical examination of urban vacancy. Experts in architecture, sociology, and art come together at an international conference from 9-11 March 2020 to discuss the city project.

ESPACIOS REVELADOS / CHANGING PLACES Guadalajara is an initiative of the international foundation Siemens Stiftung in collaboration with the Goethe-Institut Mexico and the Secretaría de Cultura de Jalisco. It invites artists, local residents, academics, and the public to envision and experience neglected architechtural sites – some of Guadalajara’s most significant cultural heritage – in new ways.

Artists from Mexico, Chile, Cuba, Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, and Spain as well as academics and civic organizations join in on a culture project of artistic examination that traces the footprints of Guadalajara’s failed modern architecture. Most of the buildings and spaces selected for the project were built in the 1950s and 1960s. The works and critical examinations of these forgotten sites will be presented by the artists from 6-15 March 2020. Theatermakers Laura Uribe and Teatro Ojo, sound artist Yair Lopez, and the Spanish performance collective Nyam Nyam are among the presenting artists.

The works seek to answer questions about what future can be derived from the rich history of these abandoned buildings and squares, which include the former public library of Jalisco state, Condominio Guadalajara (the city’s first skyscraper), Casa de las Artesanías Jalisciense, Plaza Juárez, and Cine Guadalajara.

Three-part artistic exploration of vacancy in a city steeped in tradition

From August 2019 to February 2020, artists and academics joined residents from the city center and the districts of Moderna and Analco in five ‘Laboratorios’ – workshops, thinking labs, and working groups – for field research. Together, they examined maps and looked for ways to activate the city’s heritage. In addition to the 30 grant recipients, more than 300 people – such as neighbors, students, or activists – took part in the project.

The art projects developed at these sites will be presented to the public over ten days of ESPACIOS REVELADOS / CHANGING PLACES in March 2020. For supporting acts, a three-day conference, held from 9-11 March in collaboration with the Centro para la Cultura Arquitectónica y Urbana (CCAU), brings together academics, artists, and cultural stakeholders to explore how the imaginative power of art can activate the city’s architectural heritage.

In addition, the Art Institute of Jalisco state is launching a nine-week program of further training for students to explore ways to counteract the forgetting of a future-oriented architecture. They will be working on the question of what a future educational institution at those sites could look like.

Once again, ESPACIOS REVELADOS / CHANGING PLACES fosters discussion about cohabitation in cities and works across disciplines to address literal and symbolic vacancies in urban areas.


Guadalajara – Mexico’s second largest city and the state capital of Jalisco has a rich history. In 1950, it went through one of Mexico’s most extreme modernization projects: Large functional buildings, minimalism, and the utopia of collective living left the city with a unique character. The wave of innovation was driven by the belief that progress could prevent poverty. This dream ended in 1970 with one of Mexico’s largest economic crises. Structures best representing this modern period now stand vacant or see little use.

The Goethe-Institut is the cultural institute of the Federal Republic of Germany with a global reach. It promotes knowledge of the German language abroad and fosters international cultural cooperation. In addition, the institute conveys a comprehensive image of Germany by providing information about cultural, social, and political life in the country. Cultural and educational programs encourage intercultural dialog and enable cultural involvement. They strengthen the development of structures in civil society and foster worldwide mobility. Currently, the Goethe-Institut operates 157 institutes in 98 countries, including 12 Goethe-Institut locations in Germany.

Related links

Press release

Fact Sheet



Website Goethe-Institut

Nota de prensa (español)

Fact sheet (español)

Pictures & Videos

View all pictures & videos

Stay up to date!