A walk between teaching sessions in Mexico City…

Some class rescheduling one Tuesday gave me plenty of time to get from a mining company’s HQ to a construction firm, the two offices separated by a sweeping stretch of the Paseo de la Reforma, Mexico City’s best known thoroughfare.

After a cloudy start to the day (this was June, in the midst of the rainy season), the sun was glinting off the glass-fronted skyscrapers and pristine pink-and-white taxis.  I was on foot, heading for my second class.  I felt quite jaunty, soul-cleansed by the exercise and breeze.

Halfway along I spotted the enormous photos attached to the railings outside Bosque de Chapultepec, the city’s popular and expansive park.  My mood turned a little more thoughtful, but nothing wrong with that.  I was now in art gallery mode.  It’s a welcome initiative, this programme of photographic displays for pavement passersby.  And this particular outdoor exhibition merits some close attention.  Just because it’s free, and scarcely avoidable (unless you are in a real hurry), it is still an informative cultural experience.

I gazed up at Mexico City scenes, some captured on camera recently, others already looking like history book illustrations.  The great Colombian writer Gabriel García Márquez, after lunching with his wife; a 1990s protest at the El Ángel monument, that focal point for marches and expressions of discontent (coincidentally, I had a great view of it from an office in my construction company); a disconcerting image of a young boy in rural Guerrero, pointing the barrel of his black handgun at the photographer.

I cannot imagine authorities in a British town allowing portrayals of our society’s darkest corners to be put on show in a sunny, very public place.  But they really should consider it: no one would then write off all public art as bland.


El Ángel de la Independencia, Mexico City (credit: virtual raider)