We’re not sure who made the above GIF, but it was making the social media rounds amongst the gallerists Paddy and I met when we visited Material Art Fair in Mexico City a few weeks ago. It’s a pretty obvious commentary on the metropolis’s growing pains—sometimes this enormous city feels like it’s bursting at the seams, and it’s often a struggle to accommodate the building boom while respecting the amazing architectural heritage here. There’s no other city in the world that has both ancient pyramids and modernist masterpieces so futuristic that they served as filming locations for Total Recall.
I thought about this GIF today, when I saw this video (just made available in English), and petition, about preserving the 1979 Espacio Escultórico. It’s the city’s largest public artwork, designed by artists and architects Helen Escobedo, Manuel Felguérez, Mathias Goeritz, Hersúa, Sebastian and Federico Silva, and Roberto Acuna. Somewhere between pre-Columbian architecture, brutalism, and land art, it’s one of those totally “only in DF” spaces that make this city so magical. Unfortunately the sculpture is located on the campus of UNAM, a university that hasn’t maintained the space well (despite being a UNESCO world heritage site) and has constructed a highrise that blocks views of the volcanic landscape essential to the artists’ intent.
Save El Espacio EscultóricoThe Espacio Escultórico, México City’s largest public sculpture is under attack. Help us save this modern art masterpiece and its natural landscape by signing our petition: https://www.change.org/p/salvemos-el-espacio-escultórico#noH #salvemoselEspacioEscultorico #4pisosmenosalh
Posted by Salvemos el Espacio Escultórico on Monday, February 22, 2016
Anyway, part of Mexico City’s allure is that it’s a city that’s always changing but has pockets that feel timeless. I signed this petition, and I’d encourage others to do so too. It would be nice if UNAM could work out a compromise between growth and preservation that honors the uniqueness of its existing cultural assets. It would be a move that could set a precedent for other sensitive developments in the capital—because one day, it’s inevitable that DF’s sprawling skyline will advance toward Teotihuacan. And no one wants a view of condos from their pyramid.