Mega Engraving

Sergio Davila, Amsterdam — The beauty of the chaos in Mexico City is that anything can happen. The lack of regulations and the oligarchy of the government might be frustrating sometimes, however in a few special occasions is the perfect space for unique ideas to become real. Is quite likely that Mexico City would never have a regulation on graffiti making as the zero tolerance nowadays in Helsinki, therefore prohibition is not the answer for a mega city, it is otherwise orientation. City governments in this century should see the possibilities that cultural agency can bring, and one outstanding possibility for cultural agency is the PUBLIC SPACE artistic production. 

This technique is widely explored in the Netherlands, during the EXPERIMENTADESIGN festival in Amsterdam several designers were introducing a social behavior with their different proposals for public space art. For instance the ‘Moving Forest’, a piece by NL Architects, is thought to be an answer to the lack of green spaces in the contemporary urban environments, trees on shopping carts that people can rearrange and distribute around the city.

Moreover, the piece of Marti Guixé engages the participants in a common creation of a sculpture. The idea consist in a monolithic square surrounded by a bench and with chisels attached so that everybody can participate in the design development and modify it with their own ideas. 

These and other pieces in this festival are opening the conversation about urban issues and participation. This social art in public space is not only expressing beauty, it also engages the society in the discourse that the art piece aims to communicate. The possibility for city governments that are open to public space art production has a lot of potential. I mentioned in pasts blog posts what happened in Bogota when the government of Antanas Mockus decided to implement cultural agency in public space. The government in Mexico City has been also very inspired by these techniques and they have tried to mimic some of them, however every city needs to find their own methodologies:

The 15th of September is the celebration of independence in Mexico. In this day people normally celebrate on the streets, and the president is expected to come to the central plaza and pronounce ‘the shout’ a proclamation of independence and praise of the national heroes. This year the celebration happened as it should be in Mexico City, with the only difference that during the 15th and 16th of September 200 artists were called to participate in a ‘Mega Engraving’ throughout Reforma avenue. This Avenue is, by the way,  occupied normally by public demonstrations of syndicates and political parties, but in this occasion the pavement was not punished by the feet of masses in anger, instead it became the showroom of the Guinness record largest engraving.

Among the participants were some Novel prizes and famous artists like Leonora Carrington, Boris Viskin, José Luis Cuevas,  Vicente Rojo and also students from the art academy, writers, youth brigades and volunteers. The piece of more than one kilometer long became an space for cultural creation in a collaborative way, engaging the society in a deeper understanding of the national identity and teaching the use of engraving in a massive two days workshop assisted by huge plates and a road roller.

In my opinion we are still at the starting point of the exploration of the techniques that can be used for social enabled art and art in public space.

3 Responses to “Mega Engraving”


  1. 1 Martijn van Berkum September 22, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    great! so nice to read your point of view on it from mexico city! i like the context you describe. perhaps we should have a ‘around-the-globe, different perspectives on public art from different cities’ series! what do you say?

    good also to read some examples of succesful community art projects. they fail so often.

  2. 2 Chris Lee December 22, 2008 at 10:40 pm

    really nice post, thanks.
    stumbleed on your blog by searching for any thoughts about “relational design.”
    i’m studying in amsterdam now and am trying to articulate some thoughts about relationality and graphic design. are there any other designers, artists, or writers you could recommend possibly? or perhaps forums? any help would be appreciated, thanks!

    chris

  3. 3 sergiodavila December 23, 2008 at 3:57 am

    Hi Chris
    Thanks a lot for your comment, I’m actually working on that subject for my MA thesis. I will be uploading more info about it on my website ( http://web.me.com/sch1 ) you will be able to find a very broad map of the research that I’m following at the moment. If you want we can meet one day I’m also living in Amsterdam although at the moment I’m on holidays in Mexico. But let’s keep in touch, I have loads of info about the subject that you might be interested in and for me is always very rewarding to talk about it and therefore organize my ideas.

    Regards
    Sergio


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