About Secret History

Commentary on Latin America.
Mostly about Mexico - but not always.
Designed to encourage readers to learn about
the apparently "secret history" of 500 million people
spread across two continents
- but not always.
You can always count on a little snark.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Monumental Destruction

This week the Giraffes of Toluca died. Not the ones out at Zocango park, but the monument located on the road to DF called the Puerta Tolotzin that looked like the African animal. And, as Sol de Toluca reports, there wasn't an ounce of complaint about the removal, either. I had mentioned earlier that a bicentennial tower might be put up there, but that project seems on hold. Alexander Naime, however, gets props here for the best quote of the week in my book:
Toluca es una ciudad que se construye al capricho de quienes gobiernan y muy lejos de los intereses de los ciudadanos, muy lejos de su historia, muy lejos de los símbolos prácticamente borrados de la memoria colectiva.
I guess I can cut those three weeks out of my Mexico course that are post-1940 and just have the students read a translated version of that sentence.

One of the things I certainly appreciate about Mexico is the Roman near-madness for public monuments. The great Minerva and Arch in Guadalajara that illustrated the split personality of that city, the outlandish and striking revolutionary of Acatlan, the penitentes of Taxco, and of course, almost every square inch of DF. Public monuments give us a Mexico that simultaneously deigns to offer citizens a higher concept of community life while at times betraying that desire by covering for the lack of real improvements through lumps of brass and stone. My favorite monuments, however, are by far the glorietas. These islands of imposed and manufactured history are awash in a sea of racing modernization, but they are now so much part of the landscape and community that their original meaning is wrested from hands of their builders to become places of navigation, protest, hope, or resistance. So, while I appreciated Alexander Naime's complaint on the absence of a powerful monument outside of Toluca, perhaps he has missed what the "jirafas" of Tolotzin or the other monuments have meant to those not consumed with them as ideas of grand public art.

No comments: