Mexican Pavilion: You Know You Cannot See Yourself So Well As By Reflection




Mon-Sun 10am-5.45pm

Free Event

With Support From the Government of Mexico

V&A Commission

Fascinated by the idea of the ‘cultural other’ and the multicultural influences that co-exist in both contemporary Mexico and the UK, celebrated Mexican architect Frida Escabedo created You Know You Cannot See Yourself So Well as by Reflection, a temporary pavilion for the John Madejski Garden.

Made up of layers of reflective surfaces, and open to visitors to explore and populate, the installation aimed to spark new experiences and conversations about identity and cultural exchange.

The curved and rectangular platforms were laid out in a grid-like formation, referencing the Aztec city of Tenochtitlán that was built on a lake in the 14th century and has since been enveloped by the urban structure of Mexico City. The mirrored platforms acted as a liminal zone that both occupied the garden and reflected the buildings around it.

Like a mask, the pavilion temporarily changed the appearance of the garden for the duration of the Festival, making its own ‘otherness’ evident through contrast and juxtaposition. In doing so, it constructed a new narrative that brought together two very different cultural landscapes.

The title of the installation – which is a quote from Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar – is in reference to both the literal reflectivity of the platforms and the work’s philosophical inspiration.

“In Lacanian terms, this surface could act as a ‘mirror stage’ to illustrate the conflicting nature between how we imagine ourselves, how we project ourselves, and how others perceive us,” said the architect. “It is the similarities and reciprocities – both real and illusory – that help us to understand how we are building a collective reality.”

The pavilion was a flexible space that could be reconfigured to provide a platform for a changing programme of events and activities.

You Know You Cannot See Yourself So Well as by Reflection was selected from four shortlisted proposals by Mexican architects and designers as part of Dual Year Mexico-United Kingdom 2015, a year-long celebration of Mexican culture in the UK and vice versa.

Click here for more information about the Year of Mexico in the UK

About Frida Escobedo

Frida Escobedo (b. 1979) has a degree in architecture and urbanism from the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City and a Masters degree in Art, Design and the Public Domain at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and has been working as an independent architect since 2006.  Frida founded the studio ‘Perro Rojo’ with Alejandro Alarcón in 2003 before setting up her own practice. In 2004 she received the Scholarship for YoungCreators in Mexico and in 2008 was a winner of the Young Architects Forum at the Architectural League in New York. In 2012 her work was represented in the Mexican Pavilion at the Biennale in Venice and at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts in San Francisco. Frida has also taught at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City for several years.

London Design Festival

Over nine days in September, the London Design Festival feature hundreds of events taking place across London, showcasing the city's pivotal role in global design. The London Design Festival 2018 will be held 15-23 September, featuring over 400 Partners, Landmark Projects, and V&A Commissions.

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