On the occasion of our special issue on Zona Maco and the art week, we asked artist Joaquin Segura to draw up a special artistic itinerary around Mexico City.
Joaquin Segura’s practice meditates on the phenomenology of violence, sociopolitical microclimates, asymmetrical history and the current role of ideology. Major concerns addressed in recent projects revolve around the nature of power, identity in an age of particular instability and the ontological significance of dissent and failure. One of the most prominent Mexican artists of his generation, his work has been extensively shown internationally since the early 2000s in spaces such as Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros, La Panaderia and Museo Tamayo Arte Contemporáneo (Mexico City), El Museo del Barrio, Anthology Film Archives and White Box (New York), MoLAA (Los Angeles) Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (Madrid), National Center for Contemporary Art (Moscow), The Modern (Fort Worth) and the National Gallery of Victoria (Melbourne). He’s a founding member and board advisor of SOMA.
“To be fair, we must remark there is not only one Mexico City. Even to locals or people that have spent quite some time around, the broad spectrum of experiences the city formerly known as DF offers is quite diverse and can cater to a wide spectrum of tastes: from the blue-chip plane hopping connoisseur to individuals with a penchant for edgier or independent initiatives, with all their imaginable in-betweens. Even with its insane transit problems and a visible lack of urban planning, most of the places that may interest art audiences are pretty central. Staying at Roma, Condesa, Juárez or Cuauhtémoc would be perhaps the most accessible areas when it comes to beating omnipresent traffic jams, with interesting views and walkable distances. And yes, these are highly gentrified areas, just in case you were wondering.
A good start would be a light breakfast: maybe a croque madame, made with bread baked on the spot and freshly roasted coffee at Patisserie Dominique (Chiapas 157, Roma Norte) or a quick café au lait and pastries at Boulangerie 41 (Popocatépetl 41, Hipódromo). The Modern Art Museum, located in the historical Paseo de la Reforma Avenue, would be a nice spot to hit after, followed up by a visit to Casa del Lago, a cultural center with a strong visual arts program led by Victor Palacios. Walking to Sala de Arte Público Siqueiros, a former studio house that belonged to the illustrious 20th century muralist before being donated to the ‘people of Mexico’ is a definite must. SAPS, as the space is known to the local art crowd, is appreciated for showing politically and socially engaged projects from emerging, mid-career and consolidated artists from very diverse backgrounds.
Lunch should probably be quick if we are looking to make the most out of the day. Nice options in nearby areas would be Caldos Ánimo (Rio Elba 31, Cuauhtemoc). Their fusion of birria, a very traditional pungent goat stew mixed with ramen –hence birriamen- is as fun and tasty as it sounds. Runner-ups would be Suuway (Alfonso Reyes 238, Hipodromo), a Japanese-thai newcomer. Yes, Contramar is still amazingly good but insufferably crowded most of the time.
Hitting the used bookstore district by Zocalo, the main square, is always an exciting thing to do, especially if you’re looking for dirt-cheap soviet era propaganda – a basic need in any trip. Bibliofilia (Donceles 78-80, Centro) carries an amazing selection of documents, antique books and rare items. Beer at La Faena (Venustiano Carranza 49, Centro) and more books at Antigua Librería Madero (Isabel la Católica 97, Centro) would also add up to the incursion in this part of town.
Catching up breath at the Abelardo L. Rodriguez market (Callejón Girón, Centro), where a little-known 1935 relief mural by Isamu Noguchi silently resides, among other discreet gems in a collective project led by Diego Rivera himself is mandatory.
If it’s dinnertime already and you’re still caught in Centro, Limosneros (Allende 3, Centro), contemporary Mexican cuisine with a fancy touch and a bold cocktail bar would be the way to go. La Fonda Fina (Medellin 79, Roma Norte) also offers a cozy atmosphere in which homemade Mexican food with a twist can be delightfully tasted. The porkbelly sope is not to be missed.
Getting drunk in Mexico City is always a nice idea. Covadonga perhaps one of the most traditional artist hangout spots, at least in the past couple decades, will finally reopen its doors on late January, after a disconcerting absence following up the most recent earthquake that shook the city last September. Tortilla soup and tartar steak, along with drinks, drinks and drinks.
This might as well be a nice note to end a day in the city: a resilient and forceful spot in the world, layered and diverse, sometimes harsh but vibrant and welcoming… in its own very particular manner.
Welcome and enjoy your stay”.