Puebla Trans-Barroca: a Guide for the City

Katia Anguelova & Alessandra Poggianti

A Guide For The City1

“Puebla Trans-barroca. Una guia para la ciudad”
a project by Katia Anguelova and Alessandra Poggianti
Produced by Istituto Municipal de Arte y Cultura de Puebla, 2009
Format 11x16 cm
224 color pages
Languages spanish-english
Front cover “¡Viva la linea correcta!” by Juan Pablo Macias

“Stazione Livorno. Una guida per la città”
a project by Katia Anguelova, Stefano Boccalini and Alessandra Poggianti Edizione Gli Ori, Prato, 2007
Format 11x16 cm
224 color pages
Languages italian-english
Price 20 euro
ISBN 978-88-7336-242-7
Front cover “Community Map” by Stefano Boccalini


"Puebla Trans-Barroca: a Guide for the City" is part of a curatorial device that uses the tourist guide as a tactic to analyze the internal dynamics of the community and its city-making; a making that carries on within itself all that is properly subjective to it. After "Stazione Livorno"2 (2007), a guide devoted to the Italian city through the contributions of different professionals, "Puebla Trans-Barroca" represents the second stage of a production strategy that appropriates the grammar of conventional tourist guides as a façade. Internally, a series of critical interventions over the banal and predetermined character of tourism (of the souvenir-city) are articulated in regard to the affections and effects that produce, in a complex way, the contemporary city.

"Puebla Trans-Barroca: a Guide for the City" further develops the historic line inaugurated by Dada with their visits to "the banal city," continued by the "oniric and unconscious city" of the Surrealists, by Land Artists' territorial interventions, and by the "nomad and ludic city" of the Situationists. Common to all these experiences is the definition of the city's history and the way of experiencing it through different displacements understood as "aesthetic devices capable of describing and modifying metropolitan spaces that continuously present a nature that still has to be comprehended and signified, instead of being filled up with things" (Francesco Careri, Walkscapes, camminare come pratica estetica, Einaudi, 2006)3 .

In this sense, "Puebla Trans-Barroca" proposes a critique of urban space, considering these different approaches from the nineteenth century. It also reconsiders the historical narratives of the city in the studies of George Simmel, as a place of intensive interpersonal relations produced by a social and cultural mobility. Along the same lines, Walter Benjamin's study of Paris, which becomes an archeology of the recent past through the meticulous description of the different places of the city, considers it as a refuge for the diverse typologies of citizenship: the flâneur4 , walkers, prostitutes, bohemians...Diversity and universality appear as signs of the metropolis.


Plenty has been written about the city and people will continue to write taking into account that the world's process of urbanization continues nonstop with a velocity without precedents. To date, there is an estimation that 51% of the world's population lives in the city. The city has become world; it has surrogated the jungle. Urban space has become the way of life for the majority of humanity.

This phenomenon is about a fast and vertiginous urbanization that refers over all to the developing countries like the ones of Latin America. Obviously it is not a painless process. Henri Lefebvre anticipated this in his book "The Production of Space" (1974), when he writes that the city was becoming a "planetary reality," and that this phenomenon would transform the city into a container of new potentialities, but also the receptacle of never affronted issues.

The phenomenon manifests itself clearly in the '80s, when under the effects of globalization, the National-State undergoes a progressive crisis and yields its place to a trans-locality that renders cities mere strategic points of transnational politics. Cities begin to compete continuously between themselves to enter into a world economy and to attract or preserve human capital: intelligences, technical potentiality, foreign investments, etc. Under these appearances, the "big events" play an important roll for the showcase-city, a moment of international attention that attracts investors and makes publicity for the city's image on a world wide level.5

In the Global World, the city changes form, nodes of transport and high technologies are developed, malls blossom, gigantic towers are constructed for offices and directive centers6 -- a politic that only considers revitalizing the zones where "important jobs" are concentrated. The rest is marginalized7 . The City instead of being a place for integration becomes a place for exclusion. Instead of organizing public space in relation to the private one, we assist in the creation of "gated communities".

Public space becomes mere public access. Puebla knows very well this phenomenon. A city founded by Spaniards, it starts its urban development reproducing loyally the idea of the city, its architectonical typologies and the diverse structures, military over all, imported by the colony8 . Today its form has mutated under the whipping of an accelerated growth and under political and economical criteria that give to the city all the characteristics to enter into the net of global cities, living in first person all the effects of this process.9

The city risks not to be anymore the place of the "common-making," 10 and its public spaces end up by being strictly linked to consumerism.11 One barely stops by the street and rarely sits down on a bench at the park. In their leisure time, the privileged class encounters at the mall and spends the rest of the day at their homes.12 They live in residential complexes surrounded by tall walls and surveillance cameras aware 24 hours a day: you enter leaving an ID to the private agents. But this type of housing is only allowed for 10% of the population, the rest is expelled.


The question of how to conceive the city still awaits urgent answers.

But it's precisely after this diffuse idea, of a certain mode of re-presentation, and consecutively, of visiting and living the urban space, that the "guide" proposes its answers.

"Puebla Trans-Barroca," is necessarily a fragmented and partial guide, relying on individual (subjective) narratives.13 "Puebla Trans-Barroca" proposes in this way a critical lecture. It relies on more than 20 authors through a mosaic of public and private worlds, of micro-realities in continuous relation, to decipher an everyday life every time more difficult to analyze, precisely because of its capacity of "protecting itself," of "veiling itself," and of showing only the "legal" and the "right" part, which corresponds to public opinion.

"Puebla Trans-Barroca" goes beyond the city's images that offer themselves as embarrassing spectacles (supplement of museums and monuments) for the showcased transported tourists. The city presents itself not in a thematic way, like the tourist experiences it normally, but as public space. And public spaces -- as the sociologist and economist Saskia Sassen affirms -- to be called like that, they require the "making" through the practices and through the subjectivity of the people that transform these spaces into "public spaces." 14 In this sense, urban space must be lived as a territory of active participation that in turn will generate other forms of life.15

To choose the touristic guide to narrate the city means to displace it to the territory of subjective experiences measuring them over themselves and confronting them with the affections that are activated by the direct visiting of the places, in this way proposing a true architecture of lived space.16 The city transforms itself into "social space," as defined by Yona Friedman, a space produced individually for oneself, and that the co-authors of the guide have narrated with their respective displacements, accompanying the hypothetical "tourist" through the "listening" of a city that needs lived space to be deciphered,17 also through the "encountering" of places where cultures are crossing and superimposing and forming new ones.18 Infinity of pleats that in its multiple folding, cancel all referentiality by continuous and multidirectional becomings.

"Thus a baroque line would move exactly according to the fold, and that would bring together architects, painters, musicians, poets and philosophers," writes Gilles Deleuze in 1988 in "The Fold".19

This same fold, that in the Baroque liberated itself in an unlimited way, traverses all spaces (inner and outer) of Puebla.20 A city where its colonial origins impose to talk about Baroque as an artistic and cultural expression in one way risks generating an amnesia over the stories that have created the contemporary city,21 and on the other, allows us to introduce the notion of the city in "becoming," of its unstoppable process of multiplications of singularity and of singularization of the multiple. It also opens all those contradictions and antinomies of urban space: to dynamism, to disharmonies, to the heterogeneous, to deformation, to incompleteness, to proliferation, to dissonance, to the unusual, to the margins, to mutations, to transitoriness, to fragmentation, to imbalance. And finally, it puts us in front of the wonderful, of the enigmatic, to allegory, to metaphor, to rhetoric, to falseness, to bizarre, to the grotesque.


"Puebla Trans-Barroca" affirms that there is no space and theory without a subject that produces it; therefore the city and language carry on within themselves a multiplicity of subjective inscriptions, but also ideology. That disassembled part of knowledge, of the scientificistic epistemic machines,22 returns during the last century, while still in ours, in a pyrrhic effort making itself heard loudly: this subject doesn't let itself downgrade to a simple consumer or image as the contemporary economical politics pretend. Its making carries on within itself a critique, a struggle23 that will continue until man doesn't recognize himself as a creative, affective and political subject: the one that makes city.


  1. Critical text extracted from "Puebla Trans-barroca. A Guide For The City", a project by Katia Anguelova & Alessandra Poggianti. Produced by Instituto Municipal de Arte y Cultura de Puebla, 2009

  2. "Stazione Livorno. Una guida per la città", project by Katia Anguelova, Stefano Boccalini, Alessandra Poggianti, Gli Ori, Prato, Italia, 2007

  3. See "Del navegar y del detenerse" by Francesco Careri

  4. Word introduced by Charles Baudelaire, which refers to a man that strolls through the city

  5. See "VW Talavera", by Daniela Kostova ; "La talavera poblana y sus artesanos", by Siglinde Langhota, and "Recorrido visual y simbolico de objetos e imagenes" by Carlos Arias

    "Capitalist production has unified space, breaking down the boundaries between one society and the next. This unification is at the same time an extensive and intensive process of banalization. Just as the accumulation of commodities mass-produced for the abstract space of the market shattered all regional and legal barriers and all the Medieval guild restrictions that maintained the quality of craft production, it also undermined the autonomy and quality of places. This homogenizing power is the heavy artillery that has battered down all the walls of China." (Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle. 1967)

  6. See "Una Grieta en el asfalto: el Jardín Etnobotánico de San Andrés Cholula" by John Holloway; and "Estadistica visual de Areas Verdes" by Roberto Rugerio

  7. See "Donde dormir" by Hernain Bravo

  8. See "Puebla ¿De la ciudad colonial a la fragmentación urbana?" by Agostino Petrillo

  9. See "Mixteca trans-geografica" by Diego Medina

  10. See "Puebla apetitosa" by Jose Itirruega pp; "Saloines de baile" by Ernesto Licona and Mariana Figueroa, "Donde tomar" by the students of Unarte

  11. See "La ciudad es un invento de la civilizaciones", by Enrique de Betancourt

  12. "The spectacle presents itself simultaneously as society itself, as a part of society, and as a means of unification. As a part of society, it is the focal point of all vision and all consciousness. But due to the very fact that this sector is separate, it is in reality the domain of delusion and false consciousness: the unification it achieves is nothing but an official language of universal separation". Guy Debord, La Sociedad del Espectáculo. 1967.

  13. See "Clown" by Gabriel Wolfson

  14. See "http://www.clandestinogay.com" by Isaac Muñoz, "Bar la comunidad alternativa" by Subterráneos

  15. See "Más allá de San Francisco" by Juan Pabo Macías

  16. See "Criminalistica de campo" by René Hayashi.

  17. See "Plan Puebla" by Diego Teo & Dasha Chernysheva

  18. See "El camino de la fe en la Puebla de los Ángeles" by Fabian Valdivia

  19. Gilles Deleuze, "La. Leibniz e il Barocco", Einaudi, 1988, pp.57

  20. See "Ultrabarroco" by Victor Zamudio-Tayolor

  21. See "Has llegado a la ciudad de los Ángeles" by Moisés Ramones Rodríguez, "Guia lingüística" by Gustavo Flores

  22. See "La Línea Correcta" by John Holloway

  23. "The struggle for subjectivity presents itself, therefore, as the right to difference, variation and metamorphosis". Gilles Deleuze, Foucault, trans. Seán Hand (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1988), 105.