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CHANGING PLACES / ESPACIOS REVELADOS in Mexico

Modern cultural heritage reimagined

With a call center installed above the roofs of the city, the Mexican project “Teatro Ojo” offered a new perspective.
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Live conversations with locals allowed new, previously unknown impressions of the district to emerge.
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Biblioteca Pública del Estado near Agua Azul park has held part of country’s heritage for more than 35 years.
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Laura Uribe transformed the largely empty building into a living archive of the lives of women who worked in it.
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In a symbolic action, the Venezuelan artist Miguel Braceli turned the obelisk on Plaza Juarez on its side...
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…and reduced a vision of modern architecture to a human scale…
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… in a collective experience that illustrated different ways of living with a failed modernity.
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Bombings in the canal network marked a turning point for the Analco district in 1992.
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La Laura Palmer from Chile led visitors on excursions with residents of the district, which is considered dangerous today.
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In the empty rooms of a once-iconic bus terminal, Israel Martinez let memories and visions from former passengers echo.
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Andrea Chirinos asked: “How can vacancies be transformed into lively places?” Her ‘rapids of ideas’ invited participation in a quirky community experience and dance.
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Dyana Bayardo translated movements of workers from the epoch of modernity into a spatial choreography.
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Research materials and documents used in the working process were made available in an archive and referenced in discussions.
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From August 2019 to March 2020, a new urban project of the CHANGING PLACES / ESPACIOS REVELADOS series was held in Guadalajara. Guadalajara is Mexico’s second largest city and the capital of the state of Jalisco. It is steeped in tradition and was the focus of an eight-month process dealing with the city’s modern architecture – one of Guadalajara’s underappreciated treasures.

History of modern architecture in Guadalajara

In 1950, Guadalajara went through one of Mexico’s most extreme modernization projects. Since then, large functional buildings, minimalism, and the utopia of collective living have given the city a unique character. But some of the buildings that best represent this period are currently empty or are hardly being used. The project transformed these buildings for artistic purposes.

An unrealized modern utopia

The modernization movement was characterized by the urge to innovate: It was widely believed that progress could prevent poverty. This dream ended in 1970 with one of Mexico’s largest economic crises, a problem compounded by a wave of migration that followed. Vacancy levels increased noticeably, starting from the city center. Neglected or derelict buildings caused many residents to move to different parts of the city. Spurred on by real estate speculation, this centrifugal movement has continued through today.

Traces of the past reimagined for the city’s future

Work on this edition of CHANGING PLACES/ESPACIOS REVELADOS began in August 2019 with a series of urban labs and workshops focusing on the city center and the Moderna and Analco districts. Academics, artists, and residents worked together on field research in neglected areas of the city, studying maps and looking for ways to bring the city’s cultural heritage to life. This led to 19 site-specific works at buildings and squares created by 30 artists from six countries. Installations, performances, and activations unveiled new perspectives on the city from 6-15 March 2020. They invoked memories, critically examine the futuristic utopian visions of the past, and asked what actions can be taken in the present. The artworks highlighted traditional labor practices and took note of how objects can shape and change the city. At the same time, the art created space in public areas for exchange, interaction, and dance in a way that expressed the vulnerability, anger, and possibilities of solidarity.

Additional aspects of the project included a new thematic archive and an international forum that run from 9-11 March 2020. The forum addressed the question of how to live with the city’s failed modernity.

Changing neighborhood dynamics

During the 10 days of the festival, a total of 12,000 visitors experienced the installations, performances, activations, and talks and took part in the international conference. New alliances were formed that spanned sectors as diverse as art, academia, and civil society. The final presentations of the project’s art took place in abandoned, iconic buildings throughout the city and shifted dynamics within the neighborhoods. “Many people are afraid to come to Analco. This is an opportunity for them to get to know the neighborhood and see for themselves that there are more than just problems here,” said one resident. The Argentinean publisher DocumentA/Escénicas is planning a book on the issues raised by the project, with publication currently scheduled for the second half of 2020.

Artists

Mariana Arteaga, Cía Atea, Marta María Borrás, Héctor Bourges / Cía. Teatro Ojo, Miguel Braceli, Andrea Chirinos, Florencia Guillén, Miguel Ángel Gutiérrez, Olga Gutiérrez, Rubén Ortíz, Cía La Laura Palmer, Yair López, Cía Mákina DT, Israel Martínez, La Otra Calle / Adriana Guillén, Leonardo Moreira / Cía Hiato, Cía Nyam Nyam, Adriana Salazar, Laura Uribe, Lorena Wolffer

Book publication on artistic practices in the territory

The Argentinean publishing house DocumentA/Escénicas has published an independent book with artistic documents and texts on the topics of the project in Guadalajara. Titled “Espacios revelados. Prácticas artísticas en territorio” and curated by Gabriela Halac, it reflects empty spaces and location-specific practices of the artists in the urban space. The book will be presented digitally on November 29, 2020, at the international book fair Feria Internacional del Libro (FIL) in Guadalajara, the most important literature fair in Latin America. In addition, a complementary mail campaign will activate a community of readers inspired by the Arte Correo movement of the 1970s, which practiced the exchange of art and communication on it via mail.

Follow-up project: The SITIO INESPICIFICO online platform

Social isolation and curfews implemented due to the COVID-19 pandemic turned entire cities like Guadalajara into vacant spaces. Some of the project’s artists took this as inspiration, turning to imaginary spaces to create encounters between art and audience outside of a specific building or place. The resulting digital works showcase the resilience of art in these dystopian times. With drawings, sound, and poetry, the platform reflects on how cohabitation has changed.

The works can be viewed starting 26 April 2021 on the SITIO INESPECIFICO online platform.

In cooperation with:

ITESO Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Occidente, TEC Campus Guadalajara, Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey‍, Universidad de Guadalajara, Calle sin acoso, Documotora, Momo GDL, Urban Skeetchers, INAH Jalisco, Globo Museo de la niñez de Guadalajara, Biblioteca Pública del Estado de Jalisco, Sede Agua Azul, Museo Cabañas, Mi bici

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