In Monterrey, Mexico, LANZA Atelier designs an exhibition about gardens that takes cues from Roberto Burle Marx

In the Garden

In Monterrey, Mexico, LANZA Atelier designs an exhibition about gardens that takes cues from Roberto Burle Marx

The exhibition displays paintings, photographs, and etchings of landscapes. (Michelle Lartigue)

Gardens have always held important symbolism in philosophy. Creationist myths like that of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, or the much later writings of Rousseau, Goethe, and Flaubert each use the simplicity of the landscape and nature to tell complex parables.

Today, a new exhibition about the philosophy and design of gardens is on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Monterrey (MARCO) in Monterrey, Mexico—a city roughly 50 miles from the Texas border. The show, titled In the Garden, is curated by Magnolia de la Garza, director of the Isabel and Agustín Coppel Collection (CIAC). The exhibit, produced by CIAC A.C. and MARCO, was designed by LANZA Atelier, a Mexico City–based firm.

LANZA Atelier designed a frame made of oak that connects each of the galleries. (Michelle Lartigue)

Conceptually, the curators at CIAC were interested in exploring what Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx called the garden paradox.” According to Marx, gardens are spaces that simultaneously foster community life and impose order on nature. This paradox, Marx said, both connects and separates us from nature, because nature’s true essence is wilderness. In the Garden offers visitors space for contemplating this double entendre while looking at how plant elements and gardens are depicted in different media like photography, painting, and etching.

In the galleries, selected works from Isabel and Agustín Coppel’s collection join new works by the likes of Puerto Rican duet Allora & Calzadilla and South Africa–based Kendell Geers, and even found objects, to embody the spirt of the garden. 

B/Order is a neon artwork that plays with the English words border and order by South African artist Kendell Geers. (Michelle Lartigue)

In the Garden spans four halls in the postmodern Marco Museum by architect Ricardo Legorreta, completed in 1991. The bracketing apparatus specified by LANZA Atelier for hanging wall text and images is made entirely of oak. The exhibition design is meant to amplify the MARCO’s strong postmodern Legorretian presence, the architects said.

Study model showing the spine made of oak that connects the spaces (Courtesy LANZA Atelier)

To connect the disparate rooms, LANZA Atelier established what they call an axis of symmetry. This datum is used to create new, temporary rooms within MARCO for displaying video installations and sculptures. Cumulatively, the axis is about 260-feet-long and 12-feet-high. “This generates a feeling of curiosity and desire,” LANZA Atelier said. “Thus, two conceptual dimensions of the garden archetype are brought into dialogue: the hedonistic and the political.”

(Michelle Lartigue)

Curators at CIAC added: This exhibition was born out of a reflection regarding the relationship between museums and gardens not only as places that shelter distinct inner worlds, but also as cultural artifacts with utilitarian goals that have evolved over time in response to the needs of specific eras—as arenas for exhibition, reflection, investigation and discovery that at the same time, foster cultivation. Both are spaces that allow us to exist as a society.

In the Garden is on display at MARCO through March 24.