Tlatelolco and the localized negotiation of future imaginaries


-Jorge Munguía and Tobias Ostrander, Museo Tamayo Art Contemporáneo

In approaching the subject of neighborhood or barrio, we address this topic by defining a barrio as a multifaceted, fluctuating structure that contains within it not only a particular identification with a site, but also with a set of human relationships, ideals and visions about what a particular space is and can possibly become. We recognize this collective identification as representing shared desire or desires and as such the notion of barrio inherently involves the projection of a future imaginary or potentiality.

Our interest in Tlatelolco arises from its historical cultural relevance as a repeated site of imaginings of the future and various collective ideals and relationships while we concurrently look to explore Tlatelolco´s contemporary status as an increasingly active context for cultural production. A site rich in the complex layering of constructed histories that define contemporary Mexico, our interest is not an historicizing, self-exoticizing one, but a desire to investigate the continued role of this context in the construction of future possibilities for Mexico today, as it looks to define its place within an increasingly globalized world. Tlatelolco provokes these desires, in that it involves the perpetual negotiation by its inhabitants and its visitors with various pasts and futures, and questions about the continued potentialities of this site as a generator of future models.

Filled with the aspirations and anxieties of cultural development, Tlatelolco has been a significant cultural site since the Aztec period. In the twentieth century, it was closely identified with modernist urban planning ambitions of Mexico during the early 1960s, and student demonstrations and killings at the time of the Olympics in 1968. During the earthquake of 1985, it suffered dramatic casualties, as its architecture proved unsound and resulted in many fatalities. In recent years there has been increased cultural attention placed upon this planned neighborhood, both by governmental agencies that look to articulate or reconcile various interpretations of its past, as well as by artists from both Mexico and abroad that have engaged the site. Our presentation seeks to reflect on this resurgence of interest and the new significations, brandings, and ideologies it brings to this neighborhood.

The project combines preexisting artworks related to Tlateloloco with works commissioned specifically for the Museum as Hub. Films screenings, artist talks and workshops, discussions with cultural critics from Mexico, and informal discussion groups will take place over the course of the presentation. With this structure we hope to develop a discursive space that allows visitors to engage more fully in the reflections that the project generates regarding one neighborhood’s continual negotiation of future imaginaries.

The Museo Tamayo’s participation in Museum as Hub is made possible, in part, by the Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores and The Mexican Cultural Institute of New York.