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Sculptural Space

Located in a barren landscape of Mexico City, the Sculptural Space (1977-79) is probably one of the best known works of Land Art in Latin-America. Federico Silva, Mathias Goeritz, Helen Escobedo, Manuel Felguérez, Hersúa and Sebastián conceived this public intervention within the UNAM’s campus over an large rocky area that, at the time, was considered unsuitable for construction. Provoking a dialogue between the Pre-Columbian “Plastic Integration” tradition and Modern techniques of minimalist design, the space was made out of three main materials: red tezontle for the circular path, the volcanic rock that already occupied the space, and 64 large isosceles triangles made of concrete. Though the lay-out of the sculpture is reminiscent of the greek amphitheater, its main inspiration can be traced to Olmec architecture. The Sculptural Space develops a dialogue between ancient Mesoamerican cosmologies and modernist design, resulting in a syncretic vision of the past and future of Mexico. The famed Mexican artist Rufino Tamayo uses a similar theme in the sculpture he designed for the Sculptural Space’s main entrance.

While the monumentality of this piece follows the same theme of sublimity and ‘grandeur’ that many of the City’s art pieces employ, it nevertheless subtracts itself from conventional narratives of an idealized indigenous past or of the nationalist post-revolutionary sentiment that was dominant during the first half of the 20th century. As an extension of this artistic installation, an intricate path with six colorful, abstract, sculptures made of metal and concrete was designed and built by these very same artists. Both interventions generate an thematic and clever articulation of artificial and natural geometries all through the Centro Cultural Universitario. The Snakes of Pedregal and the Rabbit Eight by Silva, Bird Two by Hersúa, the Dynamic Coatl by Escobedo, ‘Corona del Pedregal’ by Mathias Goeritz, and finally the constructivist Variant of Kepler’s Key by Felguérez, all together constitute the so called ‘Paseo de las Esculturas’ (the Sculpture Promenade). Despite their high level of abstraction, the titles and styles of these individual sculptures suggest a rigorous collective work and a playful and intimate relationship between the landscape and its visitors.

Project name Sculpture Space UNAM
Period 1978, 1979
Contributor Mathias Goeritz, Federico Silva, Helen Escobedo, Manuel Felguérez and Hersúa & Sebastián
Location Centro Cultural Universitario, Mario de La Cueva, Coyoacán, Universitaria, 04510 Ciudad de México, CDMX