Introduction to Mexico City: A Multi-Part Course with Julio Pastor

Introduction to Mexico City: A Multi-Part Course with Julio Pastor


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Join a local expert on this multi-part course through the animated Mexican capital. Each lecture is devoted to the archeological, artistic, and architectural highlights of this bustling megalopolis through the lens of a distinct neighborhood. We’ll emerge with a well-rounded understanding of many facets of life in Mexico, from history to food to politics, and the built environment.

We will start in the historic center where we’ll note how the different periods of Mexican history materialize into the urban landscape. We’ll learn about the history of the country through an artist-led guided study of the iconic murals of Diego Rivera. Afterward, we’ll head south to Xochimilco, where we’ll get a glimpse of what the Aztec city looked like prior to the Spanish conquest. After losing ourselves in the alleys of a local food market, we’ll move over to Coyoacán, the birthplace of the iconic artist Frida Kahlo. We’ll take a stroll through the streets of the trendy Roma and Condesa neighborhoods and look at the most emblematic examples of modernist architecture. Finally, we’ll cross over to Chapultepec, where we will discuss the revolutionary art of David Alfaro Siqueiros, and the pre-Columbian monolithic masterpieces kept at the Anthropology Museum.

Led by visual artist and Mexico City resident Julio Pastor, this course will look into the art and architecture of Mexico City, beyond the limits of these disciplines. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of the cultural diversity of the city, and the importance of Mexican culture beyond the country’s borders.

Lecture 1: Centro Histórico: Tangible History

We’ll start our course by walking the streets of the Centro Histórico. We’ll step into the National Palace as we see walls adorned with Diego Rivera’s murals that depict Mexico’s colorful history. We’ll cross over to the Templo Mayor in order to visualize the Pre-Columbian past before moving on to discuss examples of colonial architecture such as the Cathedral and the Palacio de Minería. We’ll finish up with a look at the most iconic buildings of the Independent Era: Bellas Artes, the Palacio Postal, and the Monument to the Revolution.

Lecture 2: Xochimilco and Ciudad Universitaria: From Canals to Highways

The neighborhood of Xochimilco offers us the opportunity to understand the way the Aztecs created a lake city with canals instead of roads. We will also take advantage of our stop here to visit a local market and discuss food production and consumption in past and present-day Mexico. We will continue this session by looking into the World Heritage Site of the university campus and discuss how the architects that designed it helped bring into terms the Pre-Columbian past with modern architecture.

Lecture 3: Coyoacán and San Angel: Art, Love, and Politics

For our third lecture, we’ll be following the footsteps of Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, and Leon Trotsky. We’ll start with the birthplace and resting place of Frida Kahlo, Casa Azul, before heading to the Trotsky Museum. the second house that the exiled Russian leader inhabited as a political refugee in Mexico City. Finally, we’ll cross over to the neighborhood of San Angel where we’ll look into the functionalist architecture of another of the residences of Rivera and Kahlo.

Lecture 4: Roma and Condesa: A Cocktail of Architectural Styles

In this lecture, we’ll walk the streets of the super hip neighborhoods of Roma and Condesa. We’ll look at the most iconic buildings from the wide range of styles that make up their urban landscape; from Art Nouveau and Art Deco to Functionalism and contemporary proposals.

Lecture 5: Chapultepec and Polanco: An Urban Landscape that reflects the Expansion of the Mexican Economy

For our final lecture, we’ll discuss some of the most famous examples of contemporary architecture in the neighborhoods of Chapultepec and Polanco. We’ll be looking into the most iconic pieces of the Anthropology Museum and finally, we’ll cross over to the Castle of Chapultepec, where we will discuss the revolutionary art of David Alfaro Siqueiros.

Born and raised in Mexico City, Julio Pastor is a proud pedestrian of his native city. He completed a BA in Fine Arts at UNAM. In 2008, he moved to the Netherlands where he completed his MFA, specializing in the Urban Landscape. After seven years, he returned to Mexico and turned the focus of his art production to the city that he roams every day. His art production is thoroughly inspired on what he encounters during his everyday walks, but also by a great deal of reading on topics related to architecture and urbanism. When not working at his art practice, Julio can be found teaching undergraduate drawing courses in the architecture department at the Universidad Iberoamericana, or enjoying the city with his wife and two children.

How does it work?

This is a five-part course held on consecutive days and hosted on Zoom. Please check the schedule for the specific dates and times for each lecture.

How long are the lectures?

Each lecture is 90 minutes long with time for Q&A. In the two-day intensive, each session is 4 hours, with 1-2 short pauses to break up the time as well as for interspersed Q&A.

How much is the course?

$175 for five 90-minute or two four-hour lectures.

Is a recording available?

In general, our courses are not recorded. However, if you need to miss a lecture please let us know in advance and we can arrange for a recording for that session on an individual basis.

This course is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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