Critics’ Picks

Still from Ciudad Moderna, 2004.

New York

Terence Gower

Storefront for Art and Architecture
97 Kenmare Street
July 25, 2013–June 10, 2006

Raul the fun-loving bachelor has a series of madcap adventures in Terence Gower’s must-see 2004 video Ciudad Moderna. He gets into a scrape, dances in his chic apartment clad only in his underwear, executes a mean pratfall, dives into a pool, and, naturally, entertains a variety of beautiful women—all within the span of six minutes. Yet his exploits are secondary to the video’s primary function: It is a valentine to Mexico City’s modernist architecture. Gower is a serious scholar of Mexican modernism, and this is one in a series of works on the subject. To make it, he pared down a 1966 comedy (Despedida de Casada [Bachelorette Party for a Bride]) to its scenes with particularly choice sets, such as a private residence that incorporates a natural rock wall as part of the interior of the house or the stunning Museum of Anthropology, completed the year before the movie was shot. At certain points throughout Gower’s video, the screen freezes, dissolving first into a black-and-white photo with the characters and decorative objects digitally removed, and then into a line drawing. This allows viewers to contemplate the bare bones of a style that may have failed to realize its ideological ambitions but is nevertheless a source of stunning formal achievements.