Ruta de la Amistad
Ruta de la Amistad, or the Route of Friendship, consists of twenty-two large-scale sculptures that were commissioned ahead of the 1968 Summer Olympics to serve as permanent markers of the event in the landscape of Mexico City. Τhe sculptures were designed by artists of international renown hailing from five continents and were primarily constructed of concrete and steel. Nineteen of the sculptures were spread along a 17-kilometer route that united distant Olympic venues, and which has since developed into a major highway around Mexico City, the Periférico Sur. The ensemble was completed by three special commissions that were installed near the route. Threatened by demolition after the conclusion of the games, the sculptures were neglected over the years and they faded into obscurity as their immediate contexts and the surrounding landscape changed drastically with time. Recently, the preservation of many of the sculptures was directly threatened by the project to construct an elevated second level above the existing highway.
How We Helped
Over the last two decades, local advocates, led by the Patronato Ruta de la Amistad A.C., have successfully rescued and restored most of the sculptures. To encourage the preservation of the remaining sculptures, and the reintegration of this important heritage resource into the fabric of Mexico City, Ruta de la Amistad was included on the 2012 World Monuments Watch. In 2012, World Monuments Fund helped restore two sculptures of the original route. Janus, by Australian sculptor Clement Meadmore, an iconic composition of a steel prism twisting onto itself, and Articulated Wall by Austrian artist Herbert Bayer, a vertical slab of 33 concrete modules threaded on a steel spine, were moved to a new site where other sculptures of Ruta de la Amistad have also been relocated. A ceremony in February 2013 marked the completion of work on Bayer’s sculpture. Additionally, WMF supported several advocacy and promotion activities including a Watch Day bicycle ride with over 1,500 participants.
Why It Matters
The 1968 Olympics marked an important moment in the history of Mexico City and the country of Mexico. It was a time of expectation and optimism, and the sculptures of Ruta de la Amistad were commissioned and designed to celebrate the ideals of international friendship and harmony. The effort to preserve these monuments will reestablish the significance of Ruta de la Amistad as a multicultural artistic expression of the second half of the 20th century. As part of this project, the lost volcanic landscape that originally characterized this area will be exposed, and native species of vegetation will be recovered. The revitalized ensemble will be the site of contemporary art installations, and official protection will help forestall challenges in the future.