We have all seen ‘Los Cuadros’, the distinctive red and white plaques found on the corners of Merida within Centro that give the corner a name, but how many of us have wondered how many there are and why they are there in the first place?
These are the questions that Bruce Edmiston set out to answer earlier this year. The result is a photographic work entitled ‘Las Esquinas de Mérida’ on display at Soho Galleries, identifying the remaining plaques and their locations, to our knowledge the most complete photographic record of ‘Los Cuadros’. What makes Bruce’s work unique is the matrix design that allows the viewer to pinpoint the exact location of each plaque, as the intersection of two streets. The result is a design that is not only pleasing to the eye, but of significant historical interest as well.
On arriving in Mérida in January 2012, Bruce spent many days walking around Centro taking photographs, where he came across examples of ‘Los Cuadros’. He was intrigued, and after researching their history, decided to record all that remained. Bruce found several sources suggesting the naming of corners dates back many centuries, and had been adopted by the Spanish colonialists in the form of pictorial signs to aid in navigating the growing city. Each named corner has a story attached to it, though few of these have been written down and as a result are slowly being ‘lost’ as time passes.
“Some corners date back many years. ‘El Elefante’ was referenced in documents as far back as 1794. Other stories tell of a young girl who was turned into a monkey by a witch, depicted in ‘La Tucha’ on the corner of 66 and 57. But ‘El Bombardeo’, an airplane bombing a city, must be more recent!”
Officially Mérida’s Centro Historico covers 659 blocks over a rough diamond shape, and Bruce found reference to corner names from Calle 90 in the west through to Calle 24 in the east and from Calle 39 in the north to Calle 103 in the south.
The initial project took Bruce eight weeks. From April through to June 2012 he cycled for two to four hours a day, three or four days a week, searching for plaques at each intersection within Centro. He discovered and photographed 254 plaques and 10 more where a square of bare rock wall or concrete fill indicated the existence of a plaque at some point in the recent past.
Born in the UK, Bruce moved to Australia in 1994 and is currently spending a year in Mérida with his wife and two young children. He has spent his time here trying to capture in photos some of the city’s and state’s rich culture.
More examples of his work, including some of the individual plaques he discovered, can be found at www.flickr.com/photos/bruce_edmiston. For further information on ‘Las Esquinas de Mérida’ please contact Soho Galleries, Calle 60 x 43 y 41, Centro. And if you have any stories about the plaque on the corner of your street, Bruce would love to hear from you: [email protected]
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