At once public forum and platform for experimentation, the annual architectural commission by London-based Serpentine Galleries sparks conversations about our relationship to architecture. This year’s Pavilion design, by Frida Escobedo, contemplates time through refractions and shadows. Drawing on both Mexican and British context and history, the structure interplays light, water and geometry to allow quiet reflection on the passage of the day.
On this occasion, our literary publication, The Fabulist, further examines materiality and space. Alongside essays by Geoff Dyer, Rachel Kushner, Valeria Luiselli, and Zadie Smith, this issue features an interview with Frida Escobedo, discussing her influences and Mexican constructions.
Frida Escobedo has previously collaborated with Aesop, most notably on our signature stores in Miami’s Wynwood Arts District and Chicago’s West Loop. She is currently working on a sixth Aesop store in Brooklyn, New York City.
Presented in partnership with the Serpentine Galleries, this twenty-third issue of The Fabulist gathers essays that question materiality and the meaning of our surrounds.
What memory, asks Valeria Luiselli in her essay on Mexico City’s Palacio de Bellas Artes, can be held within a slab of stone? What is washed away when the flood comes, and how can rubble make an architect?
"Make everything more flexible in every way, so that the building becomes more like a palm tree and less like a completely rigid structure, because that’s the one that will fall down. Rigid things collapse. The rest can move, yes, it transforms, it may lose sections, but its spirit will remain."
Bellas Artes is a three-dimensional map of Mexico City. It’s a kind of hologram, or a Borgesian Aleph that contains, in its limited space, the entire history of the city’s many amphibian lives, real and imagined.
E. M. Cioran wisely warned that the farther a person advances in life the less there is to convert to, but even at an advanced stage of photographic appreciation you do not simply become an admirer of Ghirri’s work; you become a convert.
Even when we try to ignore the fact that we are, along with dolphins and apes, one of those rare narcissistic, self-aware, mirror-gazing sorts of animals, it proves difficult to repress for very long the shamefully rich feeling we have for ourselves.
I began to look forward to returning from work, cracking a beer, and reading that day’s long note from Red, which he would have surely slid under the door. The notes were always on drywall tape.
‘Rigid things collapse. The rest can move, yes, it transforms, it may lose sections, but its spirit will remain.’