Postópolis! DF | understanding, participating and portraying Mexico City


Guy Debord, 1955 “Psychogeographic guide of Paris: Discourse on the passions of love: psychogeographic descents of drifting and localisation of ambient unities”

A flâneur plays a double role in city life: he constructs an specific narrative of the place, while remaining as a detached observer. This stance, simultaneously part of and apart from, combines sociological, anthropological, literary and historical notions of the relationship between the individual and the greater population of the city. In the same way that Debord worked on his representation about Paris, we want to draw our own Psychogeographic Map of Mexico City and to do that, we will need the collaborative presence of our guests at Postopolis! DF.

Jeffrey Shaw and Tjebbe van Tijen wrote in Literary Psychogeography:

The city is its own book, in which words and phrases are erased continually, pages, even whole chapters are torn out. New editions appear one after the other, with new chapters, annexes, supplements. Initially, only architecture was writing this book: “The City”

So, here are our guests at Postópolis! DF, that will help us to draw our Psychogeographic Map of Mexico City and write our “city book” about Mexico City:

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[1] Rodrigo Diaz | Ciudad Pedestre

Pedestre
1. adj. Que anda a pie.
2. adj. Llano, vulgar, inculto, bajo.


Ciudad Pedestre. Blog

Rodrigo describes himself as a “pedestrian activist“. Currently based in Mexico City, after studying at the MIT, he devotes his time in writing on urban issues, taking advantage of the endless inspiration that he found while living in one of the most populated cities of the world. In the same city that has more than 3.5 million vehicles moving in its the streets, Rodrigo is proud of never having had a car. We want to talk with him about this experiences, as Budelauire’s pointed, flâneurs are “the botanist of the sidewalk” and we think that Rodrigo is one of these botanist.

Maybe he can tell us about the feeling of being a pedestrian architect walking around a city with more than 8.84 million people living in the Metropolitan area only. The history of the late 90s to the present in Mexico City focuses on the phenomenal growth of the city and its environmental and political consequences. We want to discover, while talking with Rodrigo, more secrets about the famous Mexican metro system, public transportation and how to codify the urban experience in more sociological and psychological terms.

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[2] LA76 Guys | LA76


LA76’s Blog

As a counterpoint to Rodrigo’s experience as a local person who lives the city from the inside, LA76 is directed by a Slovenian-Serbian and a Mexican-Spaniard and based in between Los Cabos, in Baja California, and Mexico City. They can give us the vision from the outsider, the architect that came into the city and started discovering it in a whole new way.

We were inspired by Ivan Chtcheglov’s Formulary for a New Urbanism, when he wrote:

All cities are geological. You can’t take three steps without encountering ghosts bearing all the prestige of their legends. We move within a closed landscape whose landmarks constantly draw us toward the past. Certain shifting angles, certain receding perspectives, allow us to glimpse original conceptions of space, but this vision remains fragmentary. It must be sought in the magical locales of fairy tales and surrealist writings: castles, endless walls, little forgotten bars, mammoth caverns, casino mirrors.

Maybe Romana and Onairam can tell us how they perceive these geological aspects of the city. The whole population of Slovenia [2.06 million] is almost the quarter of Mexico City’s population, and both are cities with so different cultural traditiosn and way of living –or maybe not so different? Have they found the “ghosts” mentioned by Chtcheglov in Mexican corners? Are these “ghosts” similar to Slovenian’s ones?

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[3] Perros Negros | Perros Negros


Perros Negros. Web

Perros Negros is a production office based in Mexico City and most of the office’s projects aim at developing new links between the field of the arts and other spheres of society. Perros Negros are a mix in between activist artists and situationist. As psychogeographers themselves, they also study “the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals“, with projects such as Localismos or Otra de Vaqueros they are constantly generating new contexts for artistic endeavors and presentation in today’s Mexico City.

As Chtcheglov pointed, architecture is the simplest means of articulating time and space, of modulating reality, of engendering dreams, but we also think, as the Situationists did, that art can be combined with outside cultural influences, to force people to interact with their environment. And that’s exactly what Perros Negros does and we want to listen about their motivation, their ideas and how art is perceived in the city.

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[4] Gregory Berger | The Revolutionary Tourist


Gringoyo web-site

It is certainly thruth that the history of our cities has been linked to activism, just as May 1968 has taught us, with all those student occupation protests, with groups in revolt against modern consumer and technical society, embracing left-wing positions that were even more critical of Stalinist authoritarianism than of Western capitalism. That was more than fourty years ago in Paris, but what is happening now in the Mexican context?

Maybe there’s not such a big movement like May 1968, the best known is the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, but there are also small groups or single people involved in activism that acts against social and political problems that are affecting the population. That’s what Gregory is doing with his project The Revolutionary Tourist, which documents improvised comedy in the streets in moments of political upheaval.

To make fun of the current political situation, we can read as part of a so-called Message from the executive director of “CONCERNED OLIGARCHS FOR SOCIAL AND CINEMATIC HYGIENE”:

People in Latin America used to know their place. In service of a Higher Cause, we helped the United States have access to our oil, produce, and cheap labor. Things were good […] But then the little people started interfering in our way of life. Ugly, poorly dressed people throughout America – from the uppity, indigenous Zapatista uprising in Chiapas to the rabble-rousing urban socialism of dark skinned Chavistas in Venezuela… And then, to make matters worse, this crazy gringo started showing up.

Projects like The Revolutionary Tourist are strong examples of the pulse of the city, as they tell us stories of everyday life, in a way that is easy to understand and maybe, these kind of projects are seeds of change in big chaotic cities, like Mexico City.

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[5] Pablo Kobayashi | Materia


Materia Blog

When thinking about Mexican contemporary architecture we all think in names as tatiana Bilbao, Productora, Fernando Romero and Dellekamp Arquitectos, among others [some of them will be also joining all of us at Postopolis! DF] but we know little about younger architects and even students and what they think about the future of the profession in a country with one of the biggest urban sprawls in the world.

Pablo is Master in Arts with Emerging Technologies and Design [EmTech] by the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London and Architect from the Universidad Intercontinental. He is focused on studying genetic architecture and his most recent research project, Lotsof, focuses on the combination of sophisticated creative processes related to digital technologies with everyday technological resources, simple and accessible. We are highly interested in the way these kind of experimental projects are developing in Mexican universities and the approach of students to these new tendencies.

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So these are the flâneurs we have invited to join us at Postopolis! DF to start discovering all the secret corners of the city, seen through differents backgrounds like a mirror game. While looking at other realities we can know ourselves a little bit more. We want to thank all of you for joining us and sharing your time and experiences with the rest of the world!

Hope you can join us too!! From 8-12 June 2010 at Museo Experimental El Eco. All the info, guest bloggers, schedules and more, here.


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