Thursday, May 02, 2013

Ruta de la Amistad

In my last post, I recalled my journeys from my family's home to my grandparents' house on the other side of Mexico City.  I also have been reminiscing about my memories of the public art in Mexico.

As a child, I particularly liked driving to my aunt's house that was further south from my grandparents' house because we drove along la Ruta de la Amistad:  a large scale public art project along a 17 km route that followed the ring expressway along the southern perimeter of the city.  The project was part of the celebration of the 1968 Olympic games being held in Mexico City, where the notion of including a Cultural Olympiad along with the sporting one was put forth.  As part of the project, nineteen large artistic pieces designed and built by renown artist from around the world and measuring from 7 to 22 meters in height were placed along the route every one and a half kilometers.  These large sculptures were to be placed either on the lava beds or in the agricultural fields that are found in the area - this part of the city was not developed at that time.  Three other installations were to be placed at specific sporting venues, including the nearby Olympic Stadium and the Azteca Soccer Stadium.

When we would drive by these in the 1970s, the city had begun to expand into this area, but still seemed to be on the fringes of the urban center.  Nonetheless, I loved spotting each sculpture, seeing the small sphere that identified the country from which the artist came from, and trying to make sense of the abstract art.

Over time, these sculptures were neglected and were not cared for.  They were vandalized and eroded by the elements.  Recently, there have been efforts to restore them by having business, non-profit, and diplomatic entities "adopt" each and fund their rehabilitation.

Over then next few days I will be posting pictures of each and my memories of them.

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