Reseña de "Aqui es Tijuana"/"Here is Tijuana" por Michael Bell

Para el Architects Newspaper de NY.

Every—where All at Once

by Michael Bell

A 2002 exhibition organized by the Museum of Modern Art titled “Life of the City” included in its three parts a wholly relocated version of what had been an instantly organized and auto curated exhibition “Here is New York.” Mounted first at a SoHo storefront in the days immediately following 9/11—Here is New York borrowed its title of the E.B. White essay of the same name. White's essay—or more precisely, the title of White's essay has levitated over Manhattan's literary world since it was published in 1949. It is the perpetual present tense of White’s title—its attempt to inhabit the moment, a flash of experience that was commensurate with the isolation and simultaneous crush of the Manhattan life that was revised. At MoMA, just months after 9-11, the title was re-applied to capture the instant change that was life in New York City at 9-11. A real time museum emerged—the MoMA’s modernity re-emerged. But it was the emergence of a state of crisis set within an exhibition that startled: yet at MoMA it was framed in the context of the larger exhibition—“Life of the City.” The most difficult image I recall was a picture of a television monitor with the text “New York City Declares State of Emergency.”

Here is Tijuana is presenting another form of a perpetual present tense emergency—one we have known for a far longer period of time. But Tijuana is also presented as a wide breadth of future potentials. In the genre of books that have embarked on a urban reconnaissance mission, “The Harvard Guide to Shopping,” “Ladders,” “City of Quartz,” “The Contemporary City” — all prodded at a public that was aware of crisis, but set in a somber lull: not unaware of disaster, but unable to harness the indignation or overt fear in the face of what counted as outright predation. After 9-11 New York's emotions were cut wide open—and a television declaring directly "State of Emergency" invoked a kind of stilled but total pandemic; and over conscious of knowledge of a present so changed in an instant that it must be understood as a perpetual flash. Here is Tijuana is such a present— after emerging for the last 35 years Tijuana now IS—it is still the border zone, it is still the doppelganger of poverty that shows the inequity of the border at San Diego—but it also now a teaming and centerless milieu that expands east, south as much as pressing north; it is seamlessly wealthy and poor in endless gradients.

Tijuana is a locked entity—an impasse—as much a mathematically coded living and changing zone. Here is Tijuana presents a place and a condition. It’s emergent as well as here and oddly like New York we have always known it well but been unable to really see it. Tijuana is demanding to be understood but somehow opaque.

Nearly 20 years after the publication of Zone Books "The Contemporary City" and well after Mike's Davis' work on the Los Angeles and more recently on the global poor and slums, Here is Tijuana has deep footings—but it also must be read with an eye to the future. It’s latent question is how do we constitute the depiction of social emergencies today; how do we see them, respond to them; and indeed what is the state of recourse for those who live under crisis conditions when the flash point that would allow change is also perpetually out of reach. Here is Tijuana’s montage offers a deep sense of joy—its obvious the authors love the city, and are not demonstrating social need as much human potential, but in the light of the book’s historical footings we must ask what becomes of the metropolis that was always luring—even predatory. Something far more dangerous than New York is being depicted here— a metropolis that lures people to the border but is not designed to allow access (to the United States) becomes something internally self and re-generative; returning to itself the energies it spent on exit. Tijuana is of course everywhere: but its harder to see this without the overt border condition of San Diego and Tijuana—at the border the stilled zones of internal machinations lie counter to the heady streaming of monies that so easily characterizes the global city of the wider press—but this stillness is everywhere. It IS very much the new metropolitan life.

Text by: Michael Bell

Michael Bell

Associate Professor of Architecture

Director Core Design Studios

Coordinator Housing Studios

Columbia University, GSAPP


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