ARCHIVO(S) CENTRO SCOP
ARCHIVO(S) CENTRO SCOP
V.3: Centro SCOP
6.feb.18 – 28.abr.18
Damaged by the earthquakes of September 19, 1985 and 2017, today the future of the emblematic SCOP Center and its 65,000 sq ft artistic heritage of murals and sculptures is uncertain. The third exhibition in the Archivo(s) series rescues the memory of the project to speculate on the preservation of modern Mexican heritage in a context of urgency.
At 7:19 am on Thursday, September 19, 1985, an earthquake registering 8.1 degrees on the Richter scale shook Mexico City and partially destroyed—along with 251 collapsed and 165 severely damaged buildings, as well as a unconfirmed number of deaths in the tens of thousands—the headquarters building of the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation (SCT), popularly identified by its original name of Centro SCOP*, in the Colonia Narvarte district.
Designed by Carlos Lazo with Augusto Pérez Palacios and Raúl Cacho in the mid-1950s, the SCOP Center became one of the most emblematic buildings of architectural modernity as promoted by the Mexican State. Built on the skeleton of what was originally planned to be a public hospital, the most representative element of the project were the 15 monumental murals and sculptures commissioned from some of the most important artists of the 20th century in Mexico—Juan O'Gorman, José Chávez Morado, Arturo Estrada, Rodrigo Arenas Betancourt and Zúñiga, among others—covering a total area of 65,000 sq ft.
The destruction of a large part of the original murals after the earthquake prompted the SCT to embark on an ambitious reconstruction project of both the building and the damaged works of art. Thirty-seven years later, exactly on the same date of September 19 but in 2017, another earthquake of great intensity once again gravely affected the structure of the former SCOP Center. Due to the visible affectations suffered, it was decided to evacuate the property and relocate around 3,000 employees of the Secretariat who worked there. Pending an official complete structural assessment, the future of the building and its architectural and artistic heritage is uncertain.
The third exhibition in the Archivo(s) series, SCOP Center, departs from an exceptional and critical situation in order to trigger—in the form of quick responses—an urgent reflection on a series of complex, problematic questions related to the modern Mexican heritage affected by the September 19th earthquakes, as well as a reconsideration of the traditional principles of historic preservation in the face of a state of exception. The exhibition also offers different critical readings of modernism in Mexico from a perspective of contemporary art, with new works by Isauro Huizar, Pablo López Luz, Tercerunquinto and Virginia Colwell. Finally, the architecture firm FR-EE Fernando Romero Enterprise, taking cues from a conversation with artist Pedro Reyes, imagines a possible design solution to preserve and reactivate the murals, assuring their place in the history of art and architecture in Mexico for the 21st century.
* At the time it was built, the ministry was still named Secretariat of Communications and Public Works (SCOP), founded in 1891. In 1958 it changed its name to the Secretariat of Communications and Transportation (SCT).
About the Archivo(s) series
The ARCHIVO(S) exhibition series presents a new approach to relevant yet overlooked projects of modern architecture and design in Mexico, departing from original archive materials in an open dialogue with artists, designers and curators. Archivo collaborates with leading figures of contemporary culture to rebuild a new architectural memory around landmarks of Mexican modernism, through exhibition formats, public activations, reproductions of historical materials, interventions, design pieces and contemporary reflections.