NEW MONUMENTS FOR NEW NEIGHBOURHOODS
Pedro Reyes and Terence Gower
Artists Pedro Reyes and Terence Gower propose New Monuments for New Neighbourhoods, a series of public artworks which are focal points for the communities in which they are sited.
The Problem: Frequently, art in the public realm is commissioned and created with little regard for its context. We are referring to the standard practice of placing large sculptures on public plazas or thoroughfares. These works are often commissioned or purchased by government authorities with very little or no feedback from the communities in which they are placed. They are dislocated and unloved attempts at decoration on a monumental scale.
The Solution: Pedro Reyes and Terence Gower propose an alternative: public sculptures called New Monuments for New Neighbourhoods, designed in collaboration with the communities in which they are placed and offering an on-going interactive relationship with that same community. New Monuments are more than public artworks, they are projects developed from and integrated with the character of their sites.
New Monuments are symbolic as well as functional. The artists propose artworks which would support the development of a community identity. They are physical and symbolic focal points which could potentially become internationally recognized symbols of their communities. This is how Luis Barragán and Matthias Goeritz’ Torres function for the neighbourhood of Satelite. The Torres de Satelite are a model for the symbolic power of a monument carefully designed for a specific neighbourhood, taking into account the local topography, traffic circulation and building style.
New Monuments are also functional. They perform an ongoing roll within the communities in which they are sited. A New Monument can be a public plaza, it can be a social club, it can be an observatory, a reading room, a café, a storage facility, or it can simply be a monumental sculpture. A good example is Mattias Goeritz’ El Eco in Colonia San Rafael. El Eco is a hybrid work, somewhere between monumental sculpture, exhibition space, performance venue, and bar.
Another model: Torre de los Vientos is a monumental sculpture by Uruguayan artist Gonzalo Fonseca. The work was commissioned and placed by a government authority to inaugurate the cultural program of the 1968 Olympics. An elegant work which later seemed to fall out of context on the edge of Periferico Sur. In 1995, Torre de los Viento was renovated by Pedro Reyes, who introduced a new function to the work: the exhibition of site-specific projects in its interior. The project integrated Fonseca’s sculpture into the cultural scene of the city in a new way. This is another model for New Monuments for New Neighbourhoods.
The artists are preparing their first proposals for the new neighbourhoods currently being built on the outskirts of Mexico City. These new communities are characterized by a featureless urbanism, devoid of identity.