Saturday, February 9, 2008

26 Hours at the Festival of Maps (part 3)

"HereThereEverywhere" is an art show. You can see elsewhere on here what I have to say about maps and art, and about the art world in general. But I should say by way of talking like a politician trying to eat only 30% of his/her words: the problems of the art world in general don't make it any less possible to create really great works of art. I think I've quoted elsewhere my college yearbook quote: "the opposite of aesthetic is anaesthetic" (Duane Preble). Well, there are a number of really effective cartography or map-based an-anaesthetics here.

Artist in the show are:
Jennifer Bartlett, Christopher Cozier, Danica Dakic, Brian Dettmer, Josh Dorman, Gisela Insuaste, Joyce Kozloff, Karen Lebergott, Mark Lombardi, Shona Macdonald, Adelheid Mers, Vik Muniz, David Opdyke, Ellen Rothenberg, Michael x. Ryan, Paula Sher, Draga Susanj, Frances Whitehead + ARTetal, and Ben Whitehouse.

Josh Dorman paints with a collage technique. A 2005 project involved illustrating the lives and selves of five Alzheimer's patients, which he did by collaging disparate images including maps into what are essentially portraits. You can see a short clip about the the project here.
The clip doesn't really do justice to the way he deals with maps and how they communicate. There was one in particular that drew over topographic maps, changing place names to those of places in the subject's childhood in Eastern Europe, which I found especially telling of the ways dementia rearranges internal senses of space and meaning. Neat stuff.

Paula Scher is well known as a map artist. Her typographic map paintings are represented by a Map of the United States (see this image from a 2006 show of her work in New York). It's an interesting exercise to me as a cartographer; her style echoes "outsider art" to me in its obsessive qualities. Didn't do a lot for me as an an-anaesthetic, but interesting as a map style.

Brian Dettmer does dissected books, and other media constructions. He had two pieces in this show: M.I.A. is a map of the Middle East with all the place-names removed. As a conjunct between image and title I actually found it kind of moving. Kind of a cartographic elegy. The other was a dissected atlas, all the mapping cut away to reveal an orderly three-dimensional puzzle of place-names. Not moving, but fun and cool. See more of his art here, including road maps with all but the highways removed.

I also enjoyed Vik Muniz's photographs, from his Earthworks series, enormous images of common objects (scissors, for example) carved into the floors of open-pit mines. The one that spoke to me most about maps and mapping was an enormous ruler. Apprently you can see it using a KMZ file available on his website (click on "Gallery" and then uder "2002" click "Earthworks"). A giant ruler large enough to show up on a map, where the scale may or may not be accurate for the ruler "portrayed". Pretty cool.

The show's iconic piece (the piece you see when you come in, the piece on the cover of the show's promotional material) is by Joyce Kozloff, and entitled "Targets." It is a walk-into sphere, covered neatly on the inside with bombed locations, mapped in anonymous style but in garish colors. As with any sphere, the sound inside is disturbing and disorienting. I don't easily get claustrophobia, but I felt "targeted" and was made very uneasy. It bears spending a little time inside, letting it get to you...

There were as many again exhibitors as I've mentioned; these were the ones that really caught my eye. I could have easily spent another half-hour there. Great show, and it's up until April.

One more stop, the show at the Encyclopedia Britannica offices. Nice work, a lot of contemporary thematic maps and a handful of examples of early Britannica mapping. But a bit of a sideshow.

I was sorry not to make it up to the Newberry Library, and sorry not to have made it down in the fall for some of the other art-map shows. Many of them looked interesting. But the trip was definitely worth it, and again I strongly encourage mapfolk to make the trip down to Baltimore to see the show there this spring.

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