Experience Design and National Consciousness: World's Fairs and Olympics

The World of Tomorrow

The Tour D'Eiffel and Logo-ization

The concept of the "Street of Nations"


"The exoticism of the Aztec Palace, as well as its combination of archaeology, history, architecture,
and technology, was seen by Mexicans and Europeans alike as no more than an essay, an attempt. If
all material things were ephemeral in world's fairs, then the ideas they symbolized were expressed as
an essay. They formed a coherent, incomplete, and experimental proposal that sought to persuade
spectators of the reality of its propositions"

"chronicle of the scientific (that is, archaeological and anthropological) ideas about Mexico and Mexicans that were articulated both domestically and internationally"

"Porfirian intellectuals finally achieved the desired synthesis, which put special emphasis on two central
issues: on one hand, the creation of a civic religion with a well-delineated chronology and hierarchy
of events and a demarcated set of heroes; on the other, the reconstitution of the Indian past
as an inherent component of Mexican nationhood."

(José de la Cruz Porfirio Díaz Mori (September 15, 1830 – July 2, 1915) was a Mexican-American War volunteer and French intervention hero, an accomplished general and the President of Mexico continuously from 1876 to 1911.)

"ad hoc complement for late-nineteenth-century Western orientalism"

"In the early 1880s the beatification of the Indian president, Benito Juárez, and of the last Indian
emperor, Cuauhtémoc, were emblematic of the attempts to create a civic religion around wellestablished—
and graphically perceivable—deities."

The concept of "mestizaje"

"In effect, what Riva Palacio argued was that, beginning with the Spanish Conquest, a mestizo
nation had emerged as a natural fusion, and this fact gave new value to both of its inherent components:
Indians and Spaniards. Riva Palacio fashioned a cunning argument through an intricate amalgamation
of Renan's type of nationalist thought, Darwin's transformism, and classical criollo patriotism.
That is, cultural (linguistic and racial) nationalism and social Darwinism combined with the old
patriotism of Mexican criollos that went back to the 1780s and these liberals' common nationalist
education during foreign interventions (1840s and 1860s). Therefore, Riva Palacio could justify
the very task of writing a national history as something beyond the mere recounting of the past for
its own sake"

"Mexico's elite was linked to the transformation of nationalism as well as to both notions of cosmopolitanism.
Accordingly, they racially—scientifically—redefined Mexican nationhood by supplying
Mexico with an acceptable national uniqueness and a degree of exoticism."

"The two proposals for a 1889 Mexican pavilion that were submitted sought to represent the Indian
past faithfully and to make it coincide with modern progress, and both were historically supported
and inspired by the historical synthesis introduced by México a través de los siglos. Both proposals attempted
to satisfy the cosmopolitan and exotic appetites of the modern world; both shared the conviction of
having arrived at the final stage of progress and the idea of reconciliation.Yet they varied in the
extent and weight they gave to the different components of the nationhood they sought to mirror."

"Following this rendering of a national epic, the Aztec heroes were cautiously depicted and arranged
in a symbolic order, so as to clearly present the epic of the Mexican nation.Therefore, the facade of
the Aztec Palace was divided into two sets of bronze sculptures, all designed by the Mexican sculptor
Jesús Contreras, who was then studying in Paris. One set was located at each side of the facade;
the other decorated its central part. In the first set, on the right side of the palace, were Centeotl
(goddess protector of agriculture), Tlaloc (god of rain), and Chalchiutlicue (goddess of water). On
the left side were Xochiquetzal (god of arts), Camaxtli (god of hunting), and Yacatecuhtli (god of commerce).
In the central facade were six representations of Aztec heroes: on the right, Itzcoatl, Nezahualcoyotl,
and Totoquihuatzin; on the left, Cacama, Cuitlahuac, and Cuauhtémoc. I will examine
these representations later."

"Although Peñafiel was considered both an archaeologist and a statistician, his language was even
more rhetorically neoclassical than was that of Riva Palacio or Chavero. Peñafiel's official description
of the building was a romantic narrative, full of classical references that highlighted the heroism and
high degree of civilization of the Aztec world."

"modern nineteenth century allegorical architecture"

Question of who is not a citizen and the membership of those without a modern nationality

Aichi Expo

Shanghai Expo

José Luis Cuevas, "The Cactus Curtain" (1953)

The Story of Juan

'They had taught Juan at La Esmeralda to draw simplified figures—smooth, undulant, curvilinear,
with large hands and feet—and to use special effects such as foreshortening, so that certain
intellectuals would say that he produced "strong" works, of profound popular origin.They were not
two-dimensional works.They tried to achieve three-dimensionality by an almost automatic method
of drawing, a strict, uniform intensity of line.With such a formula, all is solved: it works equally
well for portraying a man with a bandanna, an Indian woman selling flowers in the market, a worker
in the oil fields, or one of those proletarian mother-and-child scenes which have been turned out for
over thirty years without there having intervened, for the good of Mexican art, a single Malthusian
or neo-Malthusian to hinder such an empty repetition of maternity."

The role of academic training in art - how does this relate to the concept of artistic citizenship

Kitsch in Mexican domestic interiors

"grandeur and purity of the Mexican race"

The PRI and how Juan is "protected by official and semiofficial institutions"

Critique of Mexican muralism - direct satire of Diego Rivera

"Juan sold so regularly that he could afford to marry. He observed that when he dressed his wife
in a Tehuantepec costume or one of those other colorful folk-costumes that Columba Domínguez4
wears in her pictures, his clients paid better prices.After a while she hardly took off her disguises even
to sleep, because a buyer might wake them up in the early morning after a night on the town.

Juan accepted all types of commissions in order to maintain his success. He always wore overalls,
like a working-man, and huaraches, and a big mustache like Zapata's. His style featured massive,
corpulent figures, but if a commission for a mural specified lean, cadaverous figures, he painted them,
knowing that the compromise meant a few more pesos in his bank account and increased prestige
among his friends in the association."

"Juan is a fictional character, but he is based on the actual people who swarm around our national
culture.They stifle and terrify it, while those who ought to fight back are too apathetic or too frightened
to speak up. I must admit, of course, that Juan's story has a happy ending, exactly like those in
Hollywood's blissful dream-world. But it is also the happy ending of modern Mexican art, and although
it is definitely happy, it is just as definitely an ending. I reject the idea that a culture should achieve a
certain end and then halt there, and that is why I have rebelled."

"My mistake—if I may speak of myself—has been to oppose the set pattern I have outlined in this
story.When Victor Reyes gave me a questionnaire that asked if I belonged to the Mexican School, I
answered with a sacrilegious question.When I was requested to paint a series of murals in which I
would have to subordinate (that is, falsify) my pessimistic view of life in favor of an optimistic vision,
I turned the job down, even though it was in other ways a tempting offer. I have not wanted to become
a Juan; on the contrary, I have fought against the Juans all my life. Against vulgarity and mediocrity.
Against superficiality and conformity. Against the standardized opinions that are parroted over and
over again, without interruption, from the opening of an exhibit to the discussion afterwards at the
café. I protest against this crude, limited, provincial, nationalistic Mexico of the Juans, but thus far I
have been answered only with personal attacks, even though my own attacks have always been aimed
at works of art and the theories behind them, never at personalities."

Octavio de la Paz's Labyrinth of Solitude and the figure of La Malinche

Praise for Orozco

Juan Bruce-Novoa, "Mathias Goeritz"

(Bruce-Novoa is particularly critical of Siquieros.)

"Mexico's grand midcentury project of national imaging, the construction of the national university
campus, the Ciudad Universitaria (C.U.) reflected the same tension. As the culmination of the
Revolution's ideals of educational reform, the new campus would move the nation's university out
of the colonial center of Mexico City, where the different schools were housed in disparate buildings,
and concentrate them in one location on the city's southern outskirts.The project would demonstrate
to the world Mexico's capacity to utilize on a monumental scale the international language of
modern architecture and urban planning.At the same time, however, the project would turn its facades
over to the muralists for them to cover with images drawn from a well-established catalogue of decorative
motifs that had little to do with modern aesthetics. In brief, whereas the architecture was international
and modern in design, the surfaces were to be national in their display of local thematics
and nostalgic in their heavy use of indigenous imagery. Moreover, the surfaces exuded nationalism in
their display of what had become the institutionalized Mexican form of art, muralism.""

The conflict between the international and national is common throughout Latin America. Although
it occupies different levels of importance in the national aesthetic discourse in different countries—
often depending on the level of indigenous population remaining—the discussion about creating a
national art has played a role in all of them. And most often it assumes the same binary structure: the
national/positive versus the international/negative. Although I would prefer to dismiss the entire
question with the same ease with which García Ponce, in the epigram above, summarizes the coexistence
of two equally legitimate traditions, the conflict persists, especially among U.S. critics caught
up in an environment of rampant political correctness. Moreover, the situation is the necessary context
for understanding the discussion of the change in Mexican aesthetics brought about at the midcentury."

The Route of Friendship