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Moniek Driesse representing Curating the City at conference in Mexico City

Moniek Driesse, ESR CHEurope, gave a lecture on her PhD research at the architecture department of the Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana (UAM) Xochimilco, Mexico City.

Her lecture on water as cultural heritage in Mexico City and beyond was part of a series called Bifurcations and Vortices. This series focusses on different perspectives on doing research in/about the city.

"Water also functions as an archive. As a deposit of knowledge and a space of dissolution”, says Moniek Driesse.

“Water asks us to be conscious about the traces we leave on the planet, not only in terms of what is visible, but also in accordance with what is forgotten, washed away or completely transformed: rivers that became roads; the mixture of water with sand – extracted, for example, from the lands outside the city – to make the concrete that seals the soil and prevents its permeability. This archive of the history over the centuries of drainage from the lake basin into the current megalopolitan desert – with a very fragile soil – was revealed with the shaking of the Earth on September 19, 2017, when the contours of the Texcoco lake became visible on the map of collapses and debris on the streets.”

Moniek Driesse is part of the CCHS Curating the City research cluster that has lent its name also to one WP of the current Marie Curie IT Network CHEurope. Of the 15 early stage researchers, four of which belong to the WP Curating the City and make up a network of the University of Amsterdam, the University of Hasselt, the Istituto Beni Culturali Emilia Romagna, and the University of Gothenburg.

“The WP theme Curating the City focuses on how museums and heritage institutions in different European cities ‘curate’ the city’s past, present and future, in terms of defining, preserving and mediating urban heritage in a broad sense”, says Ingrid Martins Holmberg (cluster leader Curating the City).

This entails negotiation in conflicts over aesthetic regimes, dealing with issues of decolonization, post-war immigration, ‘wounded cities’ and the ‘city without Jews’, intervention in planning, as well as proactive measures in order to understand, develop and conceptualize the urban heritage landscape, also in relation to the constraints due to the tourism industry.

It also entails promoting dialogue and participation, navigating the threshold between multiple institutional and non-institutional actors, such as grassroots movements, NGOs, private entrepreneurs and various official bodies. In this context there is a growing demand for curatorial perspectives and skills enabling experts to integrate traditional urban heritage perspectives with the new dilemmas propelled by the growing significance of heritage in contemporary urbanism and by increasing demands for participation. The research explores existing and new possibilities offered by an understanding of the museum as key ‘curatorial’ actor in the urban landscape.

An overview of all the research themes and projects within the CHEurope project (including Curating the City) can be found in the newly published IBC Dossier 4/2019 “Heritage explorations across Europe.”

CCHS Curating the city research cluster
IBC Dossier 4/2019 “Heritage explorations across Europe.”
Photos: Moniek Driesse presenting at the conference in Mexico City. Photo credit: Jaell Durán Herrera
The lecture was hosted by: Gamaliel Plata (architecture student), Braulio Hernández (architecture student), Jaell Durán Herrera (coordinator of the BA programme in Architecture)