• An Atlas of New Mexican Ruins
    Frida Escobedo & Xavier Nueno

Frida Escobedo and Xavier, satellite image of Mexico City, 2019. Courtesy of the artists.

Since the economic crisis of 1982, Mexican institutions and infrastructures have been meticulously undone to accommodate neoliberal interests and investments. As the dismantling of the Mexican state was underway through massive privatizations and successive deregulation laws, a new kind of ruin emerged. If archeological ruins were rearranged during the postrevolutionary period in museums and historical sites to construct Mexico’s postcolonial identity, “designed ruins” have become the testimony of the undoing of the Mexican nation-state under the close supervision of transnational institutions and corporations. The ruined environments of contemporary Mexico range from the economy of demolition and urban speculation that emerged after the 1985 and 2018 earthquakes in Mexico City to the deregulation of terrestrial transports laws, 1989, and up to the proliferation of mass graves throughout the country. An Atlas of New Mexican Ruins aims, through a series of visual and theoretical case studies, to explore the destructive—although productive—architectural work of neoliberalism in Mexico.

Frida Escobedo is an architect and designer based in Mexico City. Her work focuses largely on the reactivation of urban spaces that are considered to be residual or forgotten, through projects that range from housing and community centers, to hotels, galleries, and public art installations. In addition to her practice, Escobedo has taught at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation and Harvard Graduate School of Design. She is the recipient of the 2016 Architectural Review Emerging Architecture Award, the 2017 Architectural League Emerging Voices Award, and in 2018 was selected to design the Serpentine Pavilion in London.

Xavier Nueno is a PhD student in the Department of Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard University. Between 2015–18, he codirected the paper retrospective of Catalan artist Francesc Abad. As part of this retrospective, he authored his first book, Napa(s). Persistir en lo inacabado [Napa(s). To Persist in the Unfinished] (Ediciones La Bahía, 2017), which mobilizes the archive of Catalan artist Francesc Abad to tell the entangled stories of deindustrialization in former Spanish textile cities, the dematerialization of the art object, and the cultural field that emerged after the Spanish Democratic Transition. His books and other forms of research have been presented, among other spaces, at Centro Nacional Museo de Arte Reina Sofía (MNCARS), Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona (MACBA), Museo Universitario de Ciencias y Artes (MUCA) in Mexico City, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.