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Jumex Collection owner says architectural choice not 'malinchismo'

June 17, 2009 | 10:31 am

You might remember last week we reported that the contemporary art collection, Coleccion Jumex, had appointed a British architectural firm, David Chipperfield Architects, to build its hot new gallery space closer to the Mexico City action.

At the time of writing the dispatch, we were also curious to know why owner Eugenio Lopez Alonso, heir to the Jumex juice fortune, opted for a British firm.

In Mexico, the term "malinchismo" is used to refer to the favoritism Mexicans sometimes show toward foreigners over other Mexicans. The term comes from the name given a woman who was adviser and lover to the leader of the Spanish Conquest, Hernan Cortez. The woman, Doña Marina, was called La Malinche by the Aztecs, who labeled her a traitor and harlot for her role as Cortes's ally as he conquered Mexico, her homeland.

Here is Lopez Alonso's response, sent via email (translated from Spanish):

It was very difficult to decide who would be responsible for designing the new space; the selection of the design wasn't done through a bidding process or a contest.

There are many excellent architects around the world; however, what caught my attention and what I liked about the architect David Chipperfield were his previous museum projects.

I interviewed him and I liked what he had to say, I knew that he was the right person; I've always liked the idea of having an international architect working here in Mexico. I would never consider a Mexican architect, for the simple reason that a city as important as Mexico City deserves to have grand buildings by international architects, like all the big cities in the world: Berlin, Madrid, Paris, London; in these cities there are always noteworthy buildings from renowned international architects.

It's not "malinchismo," no way; I've always believed that the internationalization of projects can benefit and nourish the vision of many people, in the country where the projects originate as well those who receive the works from abroad.

-- Deborah Bonello in Mexico City