Viva la Vida – Part 6

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Viva la Vida – Part 6

Women, Men and Unknowable Knowledge

Bureaucratic Business on Holiday

Monday morning I had to attend to a family emergency regarding Brazilian bureaucracy and my daughters’ passports. So I made my way to the subway to make a trip to the consulate.

Making the World Safer for Women (and Men)

On the walk there, I passed by a traffic circle that had been converted into a memorial for the victims of femicide. Mexico sadly has an extremely high number of murders of women, and it has been increasing. Every day 10-11 women are killed. The majority of them are a result of domestic violence with an intimate partner. A lot of collective effort has gone into bringing awareness to the situation and towards trying to make things better.

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Memorial for the Victims of Femicide

Villain and Victim

The murder rate overall is very high, one of the highest in the world. The situation is not good for men either, they account for 90% of all murders, though not committed by their intimate partners, a key difference. Instead they are killing each other. When you take this into account and then add the fact that men are much more likely to die by suicide, or die earlier from stress caused conditions, it becomes obvious that they are also victims of patriarchy and have a lot to gain from its demise. It’s possible if we addressed the issues that cause male violence, things would get better for women and men.

Senora Presidente

Things are changing for the better for women in Mexico. They will have a female president very soon. The leading candidate, Claudia Sheinbaum, trained as a scientist studying energy engineering, and contributed to the IPCC Report on Climate Change. This could be a positive move towards better policies in Mexico to stop the climate crisis.

The government is instituting policies to make life better and stop harassment of women. Here in the US it seems like things are regressing, with the overturning of Roe v. Wade and the rolling back of abortion rights in many states. Americans like to think that women have attained equality, but the evidence clearly does not support it. We’ve been on a downward spiral for a long time. Mexico is starting to look a lot more progressive right now. 

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Traveling En Masse

One way the government has created policies to make life a little safer and better for women is to reserve the first two cars of the subway train exclusively for them, to prevent harassment from male passengers. The waiting area is also set aside. Stepping on the first car I was surrounded by women, this was novel and nice.

Problems Solved

The Brazilian Consulate was out past Chapultepec Park. Communication with the staff was challenging but eventually we were able to get everything sorted out with some photos of documentation, a letter from me, and a court date in Sao Paolo (which I didn’t have to attend!).

Then I worked all day. After the previous days’ action-packed activities, I was in need of some low-key time. Only venturing out for dinner and to see the Hanging Library in the early evening.

Finding My Way to the Hanging Library

Walking over there from the studio was a colorful experience through a gritty area. There were some hard working ladies on the street, waiting for work. I smiled at them. That’s a difficult and dangerous job and there’s so much shame around it. I silently wished for their safety and well-being. Some beautiful murals brightened things up.

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The library is an amazing work of architecture. Seeing all those books floating in space was very awe inspiring and a little overwhelming. It was a powerful reminder about how there will always be things that you will never know. There’s no way to absorb it all in one lifetime or even several. The constant change and flow, discovery and expression is unrelenting. Knowledge is being created and added all the time. As a book lover, I could spend days in a library like this, but my Spanish needs to improve. I found my way up to the art section and looked through a book on Mexican art in the 20th century. Then I walked back to my place a different way on a busy well lit street as the sun was going down.

The Hanging Library – Click the arrows to see more pictures

The Anthropology Museum

Tuesday I got up early to work and grabbed a late lunch and a giant vegan donut before heading to the Museum of Anthropology. The building was really interesting, in the middle of the courtyard is a huge post covered in sculptural elements that holds up a ceiling creating shade not connected to the other buildings. It looked like a really strange kind of square mushroom. Some of the museum was closed for renovation which was just as well, because I didn’t have a whole lot of time and there was a lot of ground to cover. The collection is so impressive and seeing the early art from the Maya, Aztec, Olmec people (and more) was very inspiring. A lot of sculptures were carved out of volcanic rock. I can imagine it would be very hard to carve.

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It’s great that all of these things have been saved, but I also think about the things that weren’t, like the codices of the Mayan people that were ordered burned by Diego de Landa Calderón. All the knowledge that was lost, all the culture that was erased, all the people who suffered and died is very painful to think about. The harm done by colonization can not be overstated. It was brutal and the indigenous people suffered greatly at the hands of the conquistadors. The people trusted Landa with their sacred writings and he burned them.

Bats, Sculptures and Axolotls

Wednesday, I worked a little in the morning and that was it for me, the rest of my time in Mexico City was for enjoying. I made my way down to Chapultepec park and walked by some giant bats. Then to the Modern Art Museum and breezing through their sculpture garden.

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After that I went on to the Zoo to see the axolotls…such interesting, cute, and charismatic little creatures. They can regenerate all their limbs if they lose one. This valley is their only habitat in the world and most of it is gone. A few may still exist in the wild but most of them now live in captivity. The good news is that they are able to reproduce well and hopefully will be able to be reintroduced in the wild, if there are good conditions for them, maybe in the new park being built. 

I’m not a big fan of zoos, but it was pretty cool to see some native animals I wouldn’t have otherwise seen, like the Mexican wolf, an ocelot and a black jaguar who sadly paced around in his enclosure.

I walked all around until my legs were really tired, then I had a quick vegan meal, stopped for a drink, texted my friend and walked back to the studio. I needed to turn in early, because I had to be up by 4am.

Written by jennalex

Artist and designer who explores the relationship between the natural world and the digital world and aims to create art and design that expands people's consciousness and creates meaningful experiences.

May 31, 2024