my first docomomo

I will be attending my very first Docomomo conference --in Mexico City, no less-- next year. Very excited. Will be posting some of my notes on this here blog. My basic premise is Ciudad Juárez as model Modern City. Tasty, don't you think?

Let's begin with a little quote from Bolaño's 2666:

The city was very poor, with most streets unpaved and a sea of houses assembled out of scrap…they discovered rail lines and slum soccer fields surrounded by shacks, and they even watched a match, without getting out of the car, between a team of the terminally ill and a team of the starving to death, and there were two highways that led out of the city, and a gully that had become a garbage dump, and neighborhoods that had grown up lame or mutilated or blind, and, sometimes, in the distance, the silhouettes of industrial warehouses, the horizon of the maquiladoras. The city, like all cities, was endless.



Peluso (Monument to the Stray Dog), Tlalpan, Mexico City.

The plaque reads:
My only crime is to have been born and living on the streets or being abandoned. I didn’t ask to be born, and despite your indifference and your beatings, the only thing I ask of you is whatever is left of your love. I don’t want to suffer anymore, surviving the world is only a matter of horror! Help me, please!


Photo by Jaime Martínez

How is Mexico City different from other oceanic spaces? Amid the steam of tamale stalls, the smell of epazote, and the cries of street vendors, there's a sense of deferred tragedy, our preferred strategy for coping with chaos.

Juan Villoro, "The Metro".


suburban aesthetics

House in El Pedregal (1951). Photo by Eliot Elisofon

Despite the historical persistence and consistency of critiques such as these, mocking uniformity, sneering at shoddy construction, and decrying the absence of taste (or worse), a substantive history of suburban aesthetics—the criteria according to which society has judged the design and appearance of suburban dwellings and landscapes—remains to be written.

John Archer, "Suburban Aesthetics is Not an Oxymoron"



I like John Berger's synthesis of the role of the PRI in the history of twentieth-century Mexico:

And so I come to the point. The ravine between the vast field of broken promises and the popular expectations of more justice had somehow to be filled in, and the main political parties, beginning with the PRI (Party of the Institution of Revolution!), have carried this out for seventy years by making rubble of what had once been a political language. Broken promises, broken premises, broken propositions, broken laws. Every principle — except that of self-interest — was emptied of meaning.