As the profile of LIGA has grown, its focused mission has perhaps lost some of its novelty. Yet even as a natural disaster and the COVID-19 pandemic affected the organization, it remains steadfast in its commitment to promote young firms, and its modest, precise format (and tight $2,000 budget per exhibition) hasn’t changed. After its first location sustained structural damage during the earthquake that struck the city in September 2017, LIGA, along with PRODUCTORA, moved to a new home at La Laguna, an old lace factory that has been reimagined as a contained production campus. LIGA’s anniversary dinner, delayed a year by the pandemic, took place at La Laguna, whose other tenants include a furniture brand, a coffee roastery, and other creative ventures.
LIGA’s current exhibition space, a 280-square-foot shoebox, is less exposed to the street than its first venue, and, at first glance, it can feel as if something was lost in the move. Indeed the sui generis space on Insurgentes Avenue—perhaps stemming from its small size and relation to the busy urban life outside—was a vital aspect of LIGA’s appeal. And yet from its beginning, LIGA has operated as something bigger than its limited physical footprint. In a way, the space where LIGA’s exhibits take place is incidental to its larger purpose, which is to initiate dialogues that can’t be contained in one room and in fact extend across time zones and borders.
In its first decade, LIGA put Mexico on the map as a participant in a global discourse about how to exhibit architecture, all while raising awareness of the urgent issues concerning architects in Latin America. This regional emphasis sets LIGA apart and unifies a broad area’s current production. Nonetheless, the organization’s more tangible impact has been local: Prior to LIGA, Mexico didn’t have a space dedicated to the exhibition of contemporary architecture. (The underfunded, state-run National Museum of Architecture at the Palacio de Bellas Artes mounts mainly historical surveys.)
Since 2011, Mexico City can call itself home to a small but world-class dedicated space for encounter and reflection around architecture. “The idea that architects can conceive of space critically and reflectively, without the need to design actual space, is incredibly powerful,” Escobedo said. In addition, LIGA has emerged as a nexus for social and professional links, a lifeline for the capital’s vibrant design community. Beyond the metropolis, LIGA has undeniably played an important role in fostering the interconnected architecture scene that exists today across Latin America.
Suleman Anaya is a writer based in Queens, New York, and Coyoacán, Mexico City.