Island Hopping

As documented by Mauricio Guillén in his Island Hopping [2005], security huts in upscale Mexican neighbourhoods turn open streets into permanent borders flowing along independent archipelagos of wealth. These “Casetas de Vigilancia” are public space invaders, military extensions of highly isolated private kingdoms. They even replicate or camouflage the architectural features of the mother palace behind the fence. Security huts should be the most often populated structures in these districts, being inhabited 24/7/365, while mansions remain as empty as the surrounding streets. However, these huts are the ones which are often a mere empty set to discourage burglars and at the same time show off a certain status, without the need for a permanent guard inside:

On the one hand, the casetas de vigilancia operate as a presence of order, of reassurance for the people who live there. On the other hand, they also function as a status symbol: they are often empty, built illegally and beyond the property line, often directly obstructing the otherwise public sidewalk. Fear seems to have the potential to become an accessory at Las Lomas, an area where “good” taste becomes a geographical criteria to map a territory, establishing a constantly shifting boundary which allows its inhabitants to close an eye to whatever lies beyond, while turning everything in its domain into an image of itself.”

[source & images> Mauricio Guillén: Island Hopping_Politics of Visibility in Contemporary Mexico [2005] via 104 & Did Someone Say Participate? (Miessen/Basar, MIT 2006)]

One Comment

  1. The trend towards gated communities is quite disturbing.

    I’m not sure how much effect these kinds of huts really have. I went past some when I was in Mexico and the guards were usually sleeping anyway.

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