PAVILION of Hotel Palenque is not in Yucatán
“One can’t figure out why they put [that] there but it seems to belong, it seems to have some incredible sort of Mayan necessity. It just grew up sort of like a tropical growth, a sort of Mexican geologic, man-made wonder.”
The pavilion is the result of a collaboration between Pedro&Juana and Montserrat Albores Gleason and forms part of the exhibition “Hotel Palenque is not in Yucatan” which was curated by Montserrat for the Hessel Museum of Art (on view 6.11 – 19.12.2014). The pavilion also served as the site for the symposium “The Future What Not And Study What? Conundrum” (organized by LUMA foundation and CCS, Bard College) and a session of Little Pig during the opening night.
The pavilion is made from double wall cardboard, smelly leather dye, bar stock and black yarn, birch tables and vinyl, a large projector and 3 flat screen TVs.
In 1969, the artist Robert Smithson, the artist Nancy Holt (his wife), and gallery owner Virginia Dwan traveled through the Mexican Southeast, including the states of Chiapas, Campeche, Tabasco, and Yucatan. While in Palenque, Chiapas, they stayed at the Hotel Palenque, founded in 1937 and located at number 15 Avenida Cinco de Mayo. At the hotel, which was undergoing renovations at the time, there coexisted buildings in partial states of construction and demolition: a kind of process of trial and error in which the structures (new and old) seemed to “intertwine with each other, and lose each other and cancel each other out.” Smithson spent entire afternoons meditating on this perpetual transition that he called de-architecturization, which, he maintained, resulted in a de-differentiated structure with no center. He shot a series of slides of the site, and three years later delivered a talk to University of Utah architecture students who were expecting to be lectured on the archaeological site at Palenque and instead were regaled with a combination of architectural and archaeological analyses of the hotel. In his detailed evaluation of the construction, Smithson not only elaborates a narrative of Mexico and its inhabitants, but also imagined a modernity that did not claim Western civilization as its point of origin. A ubiquitous modernity invented in Hotel Palenque and reinvented in the pre-Hispanic pyramid. A modernity that fragmented the center and thus proposed new thought structures that did not defer either to the notion of lineal progress or to Western cultural hegemony.
As Smithson tended to dwell on the long hours he spent in meditation and in lengthy discussions with his companions in the hotel restaurant, the pavilion substitutes the hotel restaurant as well as the class room in the University of Utah, generating a space that serves as the venue for the symposium organized by the LUMA Foundation and CCS Bard, as a classroom, a conference room, and a space for students, faculty and visitors to gather and unwind.
All quotations are taken from Robert Smithson,
Hotel Palenque, 1969-1972