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Essays: On Architecture, Modernism, and Power




Modernism and Informal Architecture in Rio de Janeiro


Japanese Space, Time, and the 1964 Tokyo Olympics


Mexican Modernism, Indigenismo, and State Violence


Excerpt from the Visions of Olympic G(l)ory:

"As architectural scholar Robin Adèle Greeley notes, “[Nonoalco-Tlatelolco’s] deliberate mix of massive functionalist modernism and architectonic references to the monumental imperial architecture of the Aztec…[was] used to underwrite the PRI’s own grasp on political culture.”[1]  This reading presents the urban complex as an imposition of the state. By situating this culturally syncretized modernist monolith around the Plaza de las Tres Culturas, the PRI laid claim to this legacy of physical space. The glinting windows and cold concrete facades surveilled the populace much as they surveilled the Plaza, an imposing specter of the state looming over a supposedly harmonious cultural fusion. By incorporating indigenismo into this work, Pani turned the symbols of indigenous culture against its own ruins. These symbols were plastered across an undemocratic state apparatus that sought to dominate a physical space characterized by the memory of this First culture. When student protestors attempted to perform a popular response in this space, dissenting from this exact narrative of state control, violence ensued. Soldiers positioned machine guns on those very apartment buildings. Aztec faces painted on the walls watched on, helpless."


[1] Robin Adèle Greeley, "The Performative Politicization of Public Space: Mexico 1968-2008-2012," Thresholds, no. 41 (2013), 25.

Further reading:

Sunshine on Leith: Art, Architecture, and Film in Scottish Nationalism, 1945-1999

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