Mexican Pavilion: You Know You Cannot See Yourself So Well As By Reflection

May-Oct

26-3

2015

V&A Commission

Fascinated by the idea of the ‘cultural other’ and the multicultural influences that co-exist in both contemporary Mexico and the UK, celebrated Mexican architect Frida Escabedo created a temporary pavilion for the John Madejski Garden.

Made up of layers of reflective surfaces, and open to visitors to explore and populate, the installation aimed to spark new experiences and conversations about identity and cultural exchange.

The curved and rectangular platforms were laid out in a grid-like formation, referencing the Aztec city of Tenochtitlán that was built on a lake in the 14th century and has since been enveloped by the urban structure of Mexico City. The mirrored platforms acted as a liminal zone that both occupied the garden and reflected the buildings around it.

Like a mask, the pavilion temporarily changed the appearance of the garden for the duration of the Festival, making its own ‘otherness’ evident through contrast and juxtaposition. In doing so, it constructed a new narrative that brought together two very different cultural landscapes.

The title of the installation – which is a quote from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar – is in reference to both the literal reflectivity of the platforms and the work’s philosophical inspiration.

“In Lacanian terms, this surface could act as a ‘mirror stage’ to illustrate the conflicting nature between how we imagine ourselves, how we project ourselves, and how others perceive us,” said the architect. “It is the similarities and reciprocities – both real and illusory – that help us to understand how we are building a collective reality.”

The pavilion was a flexible space that could be reconfigured to provide a platform for a changing programme of events and activities.

You Know You Cannot See Yourself So Well as by Reflection was selected from four shortlisted proposals by Mexican architects and designers as part of Dual Year Mexico-United Kingdom 2015, a year-long celebration of Mexican culture in the UK and vice versa.

 

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