Spectacular Mexico

Spectacular Mexico: Design, Propaganda, and the 1968 Olympics

LUIS M. CASTAÑEDA
Series: A Quadrant Book
Copyright Date: 2014
Pages: 344
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5749/j.ctt1287np0
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  • Book Info
    Spectacular Mexico
    Book Description:

    In the wake of its early twentieth-century civil wars, Mexico strove to present itself to the world as unified and prosperous. The preparation in Mexico City for the 1968 Summer Olympics was arguably the most ambitious of a sequence of design projects that aimed to signal Mexico's arrival in the developed world. InSpectacular Mexico, Luis M. Castañeda demonstrates how these projects were used to create a spectacle of social harmony and ultimately to guide the nation's capital into becoming the powerful megacity we know today.

    Not only the first Latin American country to host the Olympics, but also the first Spanish-speaking country, Mexico's architectural transformation was put on international display. From traveling exhibitions of indigenous archaeological artifacts to the construction of the Mexico City subway,Spectacular Mexicodetails how these key projects placed the nation on the stage of global capitalism and revamped its status as a modernized country. Surveying works of major architects such as Félix Candela, Pedro Ramírez Vázquez, Ricardo Legorreta, and graphic designer Lance Wyman, Castañeda illustrates the use of architecture and design as instruments of propaganda and nation branding.

    Forming a kind of "image economy," Mexico's architectural projects and artifacts were at the heart of the nation's economic growth and cultivated a new mass audience at an international level. Through an examination of one of the most important cosmopolitan moments in Mexico's history,Spectacular Mexicopositions architecture as central to the negotiation of social, economic, and political relations.

    eISBN: 978-1-4529-4244-5
    Subjects: Architecture and Architectural History, History, Art & Art History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. INTRODUCTION: THE EXHIBITIONIST STATE
    (pp. xiii-xxviii)

    Perhaps the most significant episode in the storied career of architect Pedro Ramírez Vázquez (1909–2013) was his role as chief organizer of Mexico ’68, the XIX Summer Olympics celebrated in Mexico City between October 12 and 27, 1968 (Figure I.1). In a confidential August 1967 report to then president of Mexico Gustavo Díaz Ordaz (1964–70), Ramírez Vázquez described his brainchild for the Olympics, a Cultural Olympiad to be set in motion the following January, a full nine months before the actual Olympics began. This ambitious undertaking would include performances by world-renowned theater companies; screenings of internationally acclaimed films;...

  6. ONE DIPLOMATIC SPECTACLES: MEXICO DISPLAYS ITSELF AT WORLDʹS FAIRS
    (pp. 1-48)

    Shortly before the Olympics began, in an interview for the one-hundredth edition ofArquitectura/México, then the country’s premier architectural publication, Pedro Ramírez Vázquez reflected on all that was at stake in hosting such a high-profile international event, the first of its kind in Mexico and in the developing world at large. “The rest of the world,” the interview began, “has taken a long time to forget an image of Mexico, that of a figure covered by a poncho and a sombrero sleeping soundly beneath the shadow of a tree…. The new international image of Mexico is being created this Olympic...

  7. TWO ARCHAEOLOGIES OF POWER: ASSEMBLING THE MUSEO NACIONAL DE ANTROPOLOGÍA
    (pp. 49-100)

    A photograph taken in September 1964 documents a visit by a group of architects, politicians, and bureaucrats to the new National Museum of Anthropology (MNA) in Mexico City (Figure 2.1). In the image, Ramírez Vázquez examines the display of the Aztec chamber, the most important room in the museum, alongside President López Mateos, Jaime Torres Bodet (then secretary of public education), Mexico City’s presidentially appointed mayor Ernesto Uruchurtu (officially titledregenteof the city), MNA director Ignacio Bernal, Rafael Mijares, and architects and designers from his office. Although the photograph presents the architect-politician as the figurehead of a presidential propaganda...

  8. THREE IMAGE MACHINES: MEXICO ʹ68ʹS “OLD” AND “NEW” SPORTS FACILITIES
    (pp. 101-150)

    Félix Candela’s Sports Palace, the most critically acclaimed of Mexico’s Olympic venues, embodies the media’s centrality to the production of infrastructure for the Olympics.¹ Since its completion for the games, the Palace’s distinctive silhouette and shimmering copper roof have been ubiquitous in the mass-media landscape of Mexico as well as in the eyes of critics and historians. The Palace’s notoriety—which has arguably eclipsed the rest of Mexico ’68’s architecture—has usually been understood as a result of its spectacular exterior form, which has lent itself to reproduction and dissemination in a variety of media.² Although several studies of Candela’s...

  9. FOUR TOTAL DESIGN OF AN OLYMPIC METROPOLIS
    (pp. 151-196)

    Mexico’s entry to the 1968 Milan Triennial Exhibition of Decorative Arts and Modern Architecture, organized by Italian architect Giancarlo di Carlo, was an installation devoted to Mexico ’68 commissioned by the MOC, and designed by Eduardo Terrazas (Plate 4). Like the exteriors of sports facilities examined in the preceding chapter, the entryway to the installation, essentially a slit-like opening in one of its walls, was defined by the radiating patterns of Lance Wyman’s Olympic logo. Yet unlike these painted pavements, which were limited to the exterior of the three most visited Olympic facilities, at Milan the patterns that defined the...

  10. FIVE SUBTERRANEAN SCENOGRAPHIES: TIME TRAVEL AT THE MEXICO CITY METRO
    (pp. 197-243)

    Public works, especially those of the monumental kind, occupy a place of special importance in all of Salvador Novo’s writings, and in the 1967 edition of hisNew Mexican Grandeurthey are especially significant.¹ In this book, infrastructure takes center stage, as Novo almost discusses more transportation networks to move through Mexico City than actual attractions located there. He seems especially fascinated by the Anillo Periférico (1964), the new speedway that, in his words, allows visitors to “drive round the edges of the city, with many points of entry and exit connecting with other new, wide streets,” several of which...

  11. EPILOGUE: OLYMPIC AFTERLIVES
    (pp. 245-250)

    Sometime in the early spring of 1968, the Mexican Olympic Committee sent a group of photographers to document the construction of the Olympic rowing canal of Cuemanco at Xochimilco. In an unpublished image that resulted from the visit, one of the unidentified photographers, perhaps Francisco Uribe, caught another photographer directly below him as he attempted to document construction efforts from a different angle. Busily at work, both photographers hang suspended over a large yet rudimentary ditch, a rugged extension of the elaborate canal system of the then small city and hardly an impressive work of sports infrastructure (Figure E1). The...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 251-292)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 293-302)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 303-303)
  15. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)