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Monday, August 2, 2021

#citylikeMID: Mérida from all angles

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Lee Steele
Lee Steele is the founding director of Roof Cat Media and has published Yucatán Magazine and other titles since 2012. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.

They roam Mérida’s streets, finding the offbeat angle that brings out the city’s broodingly beautiful side. We talk to the administrator of a crowd-sourced photo album that documents the city’s architectural details in unexpected ways.

Photogenic cities like Mérida have been Internet-famous ever since smartphones and social media coincided.

Architect Erick Patron was not the only one with the idea to devote an account on Instagram, Tumblr and Facebook to the city’s streetscapes. But the account he has created, called City Like MID, have demonstrated how the banal can be beautiful, charming, or at least visually arresting. Although many people contribute to these camera rolls, it’s not hard to detect a moody, eerie quality that threads these snapshots together as a piece.

Pedro Castro, 25, an architect with a degree from the Autonomous University of Yucatán and a college friend of Patron’s, said that City Like MID’s focus on architecture has documented a disappearing Mérida. City Like MID (the latter part of the name references the city’s airport code) began in 2012 among a group of friends sharing photos.

“After a while I became the social media administrator on social networking sites like Instagram and Tumblr, and I think that now almost everyone has a smart phone with a camera,” says Castro. “The idea now is to invite different people to share how they perceive the city. The different contributors who have been invited to participate are friends at work or any person or acquaintance who just posts pictures of the city.”

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Collaborators aren’t necessarily photographers by trade.

“These people range from videographers dj’s, graphic designers, and architects to the general public,” says Castro.

The network of camera bugs has included Jimena Díaz, Laura Sánchez, Omar Said Charruf, Hernán Berny, Denisse Acevedo, Ricardo Loría, Mónica Costa, Pamela Monsreal, Felipe Mazzeo, Milton Zayas, Edward Dzul, Emanuel Rebolledo and a photographer named Meduya Vespertine,

“There will be more as I search and add users to the site,” says Castro.

Analyzing a photo’s merits before posting it with hashtag #citylikemid means judging if it speaks to “an awareness of what defines our city; not just architectural elements, but also public spaces and the different activities we do in Mérida.”

He also draws inspiration from design, photography or art of Mathias Goeritz, Ana Kras, Pía Riverola, among others.

This project obviously speaks to these photographers’ deep affection for the capital city.

“Merida to me is an amazing city. It is very quiet and the pace of life does not compare to other cities that I have visited. There are many contrasts, but what I like is the historic center, which is alive. The center for me is a magical place, steeped in history,” says Castro.

Castro invites the public at large to submit their photos, diversifying the group’s portfolio.

“I would really like to talk to the public and include their experience and create a presentation depicting different aspects of the city itself, and of course publish a book with all the photos that have been posted,” he says.

“I have a clear objective to expand City Like MID and not only publish photographs of the city but to go beyond and invite the public to share photos of what comprises the whole state, such as the coast, haciendas, and so on. And why not also create a “City Like” in different cities of the republic.”

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