Jorge Méndez Blake
Traslaciones topográficas de la Biblioteca Nacional
May 23 - September 20, 2015
MUAC, UNAM, Mexico City
Jorge Méndez Blake has spent much of his career unveiling the secret lives of libraries, as utopian mechanisms of exploration, containment, classification, and accumulation; institutions that generate status, organic systems, totalizing cultural symbols of enlightenment and modernity. Topographic Transferrals from the Biblioteca Nacional is a project commissioned by the MUAC that forms a part of this extensive investigation, involving reflection on architectural materiality and its geographic location. In this case, the artist's starting point is the physical proximity between the National Library and the Museo Universitario Arte Contemporáneo (MUAC) to activate library-museum and poetry-visual arts relations. He seeks to physically connect the two buildings through a series of actions that involve the participation of the artist and other persons. The MUAC was the final building to be incorporated into the University Cultural Center (CCU), and its architect originally conceived the internal corridors of the museum as streets that would connect the center of this complex with the National Library and the adjacent sculpture garden. In practice, the opposite has occurred, since for logistical reasons the corridor linking the esplanade of the Cultural Center with the Library has been closed off. The first action, The Surveyor, involved the marking of a series of points between the National Library and the MUAC, and documenting the artist on video as he explores an alternative route—the shortest between the two buildings—defining a straight line across the semi-wild area of vegetation and volcanic rock that separates them. To construct a straight line, the artist marks the territory it advances across, utilizing surveying instruments. This action alludes to the relationship between literature and the voyages of colonial exploration made by conquistadors, expeditionaries and adventurers, which gives rise to the relation between knowledge and modernity. At the same time, it builds a metaphor about the distance between literature and visual arts, where the Museum and the National Library operate as its material emblems.