Situ-actions

The city is a space where sites, subjects, actions and objects interact. It exists as a container of occupational structures, as an archive of tales and stories that interweave with the itinerary of the people, a warehouse for SITU-ACTIONS. This project focuses on citizen participation and has already been put into practice in several neighborhoods in Mexico City. Each action is aimed at producing an impression in the community to reactivate, transform and give new meaning to the public space. Architecture and urban planning are accessed from unstable changing positions, depending on surrounding factors.

The goal of SITU-ACTIONS is to activate the social fabric of a community through inclusion, coexistence and development of a local identity. The asset that the community represents is an ally when planning and implementing urban planning projects. Citizens are aware of the factors that contribute to the eradication of violence and crime in their communities because they know the situation, the context and the spaces. The co-participation required by SITU-ACTIONS not only gives a city’s inhabitants a voice, but it also develops joint responsibility in the population in search for solutions. Once the public space is restored as a space for citizen participation, violence diminishes and the community regains control of its social life. The empowerment achieved by SITU-ACTIONS through game and experimentation is based on allowing the community to explore micro development tactics that can be carried out with few elements.

 

DAR EL AVIÓN

 

In certain countries the Spanish expression “Dar el avión” means “to ignore, to let someone be and to act indifferently; not to consider the intervention of another because dialogue is useless, to have a conversation without communication”, all this with the impotence implied in watching a plane go by. But what would happen if such indifference turned into amazement or fantasy?

Next to the takeoff and landing airstrip in Mexico City’s International Airport, impenetrable walls of abandonment, indifference and degradation surround the neighborhood Cuchilla del Tesoro. The atmosphere in this place is apathy from the two worlds entrapping this space. The space we intervened was an unused basketball court. Our actions were directed to allowing a game through optical illusion. We blurred the limits between the airport and this space by covering the wall with an apparent airstrip allowing the surrounding population to interact with the neighboring airport, integrating visual and sound effects from real airstrips. We involved the inhabitants with the question: “¿y tú, a qué le das el avión?” (What are you indifferent to?). Participants wrote down their answers on a piece of paper, which they later folded as an airplane. We played with them on the basketball court and their observations were later read to the Centro Delegacional.

 

MI PLAZA

 

Another urban action that studied how public space is perceived was an experiment with mimes and wooden crates in a plaza in the Delegación Gustavo A. Madero. The aim was to produce a collective event in this sub used plaza involving the community with the public space. Hundreds of wooden crates were collected from Mexico City’s main wholesale market (Central de Abastos) where we found wooden cities that repeated fascinating building patterns.

We took the huacales or wooden crates to this plaza and we invited people to build imaginary spaces with them. A group of mimes entertained and cheered people during the building process. Adults and children built different spaces, little houses, buildings, forums, shady roofs, flowerpots and tunnels. The mime, with an ephemeral and fictitious but precise gesture was able to alter the spectator’s perception by introducing him into an imaginary world of games whose elements echo collective memory. The mimics bordered known objects and spaces, thus filling the void; spatial suggestions eventually turned into collective suggestions for they appealed to the observer’s spatial experience. Thanks to collective memory, the mime’s gesture made it possible to rebuild and imagine new spaces. In a given plaza people began to think about of it as their plaza.

 

STREET MARKET

 

In this project we made a graphic record (maps, drawings, photographs) of the temporary transformation of public space as the change in land use and social dynamics when a street market is set. We chose the street market in the Condesa neighborhood, in the street of Nuevo León. All week we recorded street flows in different schedules, particularly during rush hour. On Friday, market day, we mapped the use of the street from 5am to 8pm. This exercise allowed us to appreciate the changes in pedestrian flow compared to vehicle flow; the transformations of space responding to the use, giving way to an alternative use of public space by pedestrians and customers. We also gathered a photographic file of all urban objects and temporary structures (posts, tarps and wooden crates) modifying the aspect and urban operation of a site.

 

CINE ABIERTO

 

We temporarily intervened the public space by organizing open sky, free movie forums in different plazas and city centers in order to promote culture through cinema. We projected artistic movies that related the cinema with other disciplines and we wrote texts for people to read. Each forum turned the street into a public party with food and beverages, exchange and music during the closing ceremony.

DAR EL AVIÓN

Project: Rozana Montiel
Collaborators: Alin V. Wallach | Sebastián Pérez | Kopalli arte público
Project Year: 2012

 

MI PLAZA

Project: Rozana Montiel
Collaborators: Alin V. Wallach | Sebastián Pérez | Kopalli arte público
Project Year: 2012

 

STREET MARKET

Project: Rozana Montiel
Collaborators: Carol Soos | Clara García
Project Year: 2013

 

CINE ABIERTO

Project: Rozana Montiel | Manuel Alcalá | Halim Matouk | Dante Busquets
Project Year: 2006