Soy la ciudad
A barbarous modernity
Few worlds like the city to gauge the excesses of the oligarchies in Latin America. And few spheres like architecture to understand the conceit of these upper classes that, when it comes to showing off, have never denied themselves anything.
That is why we so often find the great names in architecture linked to oligarch deliria. At times directly involved in projects, at others exercising a clear influence over local architects, as is the case of Le Corbusier in works by Carlos Raúl Villanueva or Gio Ponti in Richar Nevidia projects. On occasion, we have been treated to the grotesque sight of these and other architects humouring the deliria of such sinister tyrants as Pérez Jiménez and Fulgencio Batista.
This trajectory has a conventional starting-point in the authoritarian, technocrat Mexico of Porfirio Díaz, from where a megalomaniacal tradition has expanded outwards, leaving as its legacy the triumph of modernisation over modernity, the “urb” over the city, technology over freedom, demagogy over democracy, the soap opera over the novel.
This complex Latin-American paradox between power and architecture has been thoroughly by artists like Carlos Garaicoa in Cuba, Cassio Vasconcelos in Brazil and Alexander Apóstol in Venezuela.
Besides exploring the urban layout of Caracas, Apóstol has also pursued deliria indoors. As if to say that, whilst the plebs may be shameless in the streets —as, for instance, in his piece on boys as fountains in deprived neighbourhoods, a worked that tips its cap, evidently enough, to Bruce Nauman— the oligarchs are obscene in their homes —something demonstrated in “Modern Caracas”, a work that can transform hunting trophies into a library depending on whether the visitor’s sensibility is human or animal.
Apóstol understands the strange parables in which this oligarchic dream of technology and post-modernity is besieged unremittingly by the barbarous city that suddenly springs up around it. Just as the Chaldean city of Ur grew up in the middle of nowhere.
In this exhibition, which takes as its title Le Corbusier’s phrase “I am the city”, the cadence between architecture and humans becomes what we might well call an erotic relation. Take, for example, those exquisite 1950s interiors and their corresponding family novel, so perfect it becomes just as disturbing as the sexual repression of those years.
Although we talk continuously of “the city”, these projects reveal to us the gigantic failure of the ritual by which the complicity between authoritarianism and architecture has made us ever more urbanites and ever less citizens.
Curator: Iván de la Nuez