Is it truly Mexico? 20,000 years of false borders

Written by Hira Syeed in Istanbul, Turkey Having been asked by the King of Spain to represent his country at the conference in Esmeralda, Andrés Serrano originally envisioned this trip as a chance to…

Is it truly Mexico? 20,000 years of false borders

Written by Hira Syeed in Istanbul, Turkey

Having been asked by the King of Spain to represent his country at the conference in Esmeralda, Andrés Serrano originally envisioned this trip as a chance to expand his expertise as a climate scientist and a geophysicist.

But on a trip to Cordoba, the place of Lopez’s birth, he struck up a conversation with a local, a simple priest with nine children and a life story like no other — one filled with miracles, conspiracies and ideas every bit as engrossing as those Vargas Llosa might have picked up in his own childhood.

“As we were talking, I told him that I was a scientist,” he says. “And he told me that he thought I was a good scientist — and that I should go to Mexico to understand what scientists in that country had to say about the problems in their land.”

That began a 13-day trip that provided time and space for serrano to explore and fully discover Mexico’s connections to the past. That exploration would lead to “1625-2018: Ambition in Recycling the Landscape,” a group project that uses mapping and sculpture to show how borders and political tensions have radically affected the landscapes of Latin America’s most populous countries.

It’s here that serrano discovered how “the diversity of rural populations” — the confluence of richly diverse ethnicities — has helped give birth to a highly diverse landscape, and Mexico’s total population. While Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela all claim a greater total population, their size and population density is dwarfed by Mexico, which boasts a metro area of more than 40 million residents.

“The project itself has been life-changing,” he says. “I found myself and my colleagues in Cordoba deeply moved to witness the diversity and richness of the city of Cordoba.”

Mexican archaeologist Jose Lopez.

But the experience also has yielded surprising results. “There is something magical about mapping our place in the world through archaeology,” says serrano. “The land, the rocks, the courtyards, the church and even the dead will provide our map to any mysterious universe.”

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