Reading Between the Maps
On the most visual and romantic level, maps have been a source of fascination for thousands of years. The exhibition Mind the Map features the work of ten international contemporary artists whose interest in maps and cartography translates beautifully to the language of visual art. Their approach to the concept of mapping shapes a vision that is highly aesthetic, while also firmly grounded in conceptual, social, and political interests. Although the topic of mapping in contemporary art has been widely investigated and analyzed in many exhibitions, what sets Mind the Map apart is a very specific historical link — 2014 marks the 200-year anniversary of the Norwegian constitution, and Norway’s union with Sweden.
Comprised of both real and imaginary maps that intersect and overlap on many different levels, the exhibition guides viewers on a journey that begins in the past and leads straight into the present. Mind the Map includes a few carefully selected maps from around the time of the signing of The Moss Convention, which was the peace treaty that formed the basis for the Norwegian constitution and the union between Sweden and Norway. These archival treasures complement a comprehensive presentation of contemporary art that is as visual as it is conceptual, political and poetic. The works featured in Mind the Map reveal issues related to power structures and geopolitics seen from the perspective of a world in constant change, while the historical component alludes to the importance of Moss to the outcome of Norwegian history. Expanding the parameters of the exhibition from the topic of a local site of national importance, the work of these international contemporary artists emphasizes the importance of an inclusive global perspective rather than an overly nationalistic one.[...]
Events that took place in and around Moss in 1814, including the battles and peace negotiations during that summer and the signing of The Moss Convention in particular, are subtly contextualized in this exhibition. As such, the maps in this exhibition chart an intricate course that leads from a quaint little seaside town that had tremendous historical importance to Norway, to the wider context of international contemporary art.
Considering the extent to which Norway’s identity has changed during the past 200 years, and particularly at a time in Norwegian history when immigration quotas and limitations are repeatedly discussed, reviewed, and debated, it seems appropriate to place emphasis on a global perspective as we celebrate the bicentennial of the Norwegian constitution. The works of Mona Hatoum, Bouchra Khalili, Joyce Kozloff, Miler Lagos, Kevin Simón Mancera, Julie Mehretu, Fabio Morais, Vik Muniz, Rosana Ricalde and Susan Stockwell provide valuable insight in regards to social, political and cultural issues that are as relevant to the national identity of Norway as to any other nation.
Viewers are invited to cross boundaries of time and place to discover a world where politics overlap with poetics. This is a place where maps function as symbols and metaphors, and where the complexities and subtle nuances become visible if we take the time to read between the maps. Issues of domination, power and control, including the topics of colonialism and imperialism, are strong underlying themes throughout the exhibition. Mind the Map traces a trajectory that leads from traditional mappae mundi to a contemporary world where Google Maps are available to anyone, anywhere, anytime — from Oslo to Ouagadougou. This technological development is in the process of making traditional maps functionally obsolete, yet also more valuable visually and historically speaking. Since ancient times, maps have been treasured as much for their information as for their design and decoration. Clearly, what separates an ordinary map from a spectacular map is the amount of ornamentation, color and detail. What sets maps in contemporary art apart, is a combination of these visual aspects, coupled with the depth of implied meanings.
Joyce Kozloff is widely recognized for her active role in starting The Pattern and Decoration Movement in the 1970s. This movement was highly relevant as a reaction to Minimalism and Conceptualism, and was inspired by 1960s liberation politics, particularly feminism, as well as by African, Middle Eastern and Asian art. Since the early 1990s, Kozloff has focused much of her work on cartography, and the use of maps has become integral to her visual language. She appropriates images of old maps into works on paper, paintings and installations that are truly decorative, while they also address notions of power and hegemony.
In 1999, during a residency in Rome, she created Targets, a large-scale globe-shaped installation that counts among her most important works. Inside the installation are twenty-four sections of painted maps depicting places such as Korea, Vietnam, El Salvador and Iraq, where US bombs hit civilian populations between 1945 and 2000. Targets is a visually mesmerizing work that points a very direct and critical finger at American global hegemony. The beautifully colored and intricately patterned acrylic paintings featured on the inside of the installation, are directly inspired by details from the actual maps that pilots used to hit their targets. A circular opening resembles the oculus at the top of the Pantheon, hinting at Kozloff’s lifelong interest in history and culture. In contrast to the vibrant interior, the exterior is left unpainted, almost as if it were the backside of a painting.
As Lucy R. Lippard writes in an essay about Joyce Kozloff’s work: “Maps are often deceptive and easily manipulated; they have always been the tools of imperialism and colonization, as well as unconscious cultural mirrors”. These ideas are crucial to an understanding of Kozloff’s approach to maps. Although the maps are visually interesting, Kozloff is equally interested in what they represent. She makes use of a wide variety of maps throughout her work, including cosmological charts, antique maps, topographical maps, nautical charts, nineteenth century real estate maps and even school maps. Naturally, these have different meanings and purposes, aspects of which are commented on through the work. For instance, in her Social Studies series, she makes use of outdated French school maps. It is interesting to consider that classroom maps that once were widely accepted as accurate accounts of the world, have often been far from truthful and realistic. Historically speaking, this is precisely how maps have been used and misused for the purposes of power, domination and hegemony.
The interconnectivity, as well as the complete disjuncture between the maps in Kozloff’s work, is as fascinating as how these maps relate to a wider context. She explains that “Maps have become a versatile structure for my long-term passions: history, culture, decorative and popular arts. By overlapping systems of information, I intuitively make connections which emerge in a literal and conceptual collage”.
This could also be said about Rosana Ricalde’s work, although in Ricalde’s case, text plays an equally significant role. Ricalde first began integrating maps into her visual language around 2006, and has created numerous works based on maps of cities, from Rio to Paris, as well as world maps. The streets in these maps are made of words extracted from various texts, ranging from Foucault to Calvino.
From a distance the words are almost invisible, and even up close the words are mere fragments of text, extracted from a logical context. As such, these works map out a deconstruction of Calvino’s Invisible Cities, challenging our understanding of visible reality, while literally forcing us to question what we think we see. The underlying meanings, and the direct link to Calvino in particular, is barely discernable from a distance. Beyond the understated beauty and obvious symbolism, there is a strong existential undercurrent that transforms these works into something far more poetic than an actual map. The inherent opposition between the intangible imaginary world of Calvino and the straightforward factual nature of a map, creates a fascinating play of opposites that says as much about the nature of the original text as it does about Ricalde’s ongoing fascination with books, language, text and words.
In the transition from language to visual form, Rosana Ricalde deconstructs the original text and removes the grammatical logic of the words to create a story that is clearly more visual than linguistic. Extracted from the original context, the words are stripped of meaning, and no longer serve a narrative function. And yet there is a story told in these works, even if it is not overtly narrative. This is the beauty of Ricalde’s maps; while they echo the words of Calvino, more importantly they capture the essence of his work while simultaneously unraveling and deconstructing the original narrative. The logical sequence of words, as they appear in Calvino’s narrative, is destroyed in favor of visual logic that speaks more about the underlying existential and philosophical messages of the book, rather than a documentation of the actual cities described by Marco Polo or the events that take place. Rosana Ricalde’s particular interest in the travels of Marco Polo is also evident in other works. Mind the Map features Atlas Marco Polo, 2009, a work that includes passages of text that are cut out from the book The Travels of Marco Polo, the 13th-century travelogue written by Rustichello da Pisa from stories told by Marco Polo while they were in prison together. Long ribbons of this text are carefully laid out over an open atlas, to create an intricate work that is a prime example of Ricalde’s ongoing interest in both books and maps.
Julie Mehretu is renowned for her large-scale paintings and drawings where architecture is deconstructed, fragmented, overlapped and reconstructed resulting in intricate maps that are more political than orientational. Throughout Mehretu’s work, architecture is used as a metaphor for other issues: colonialism, power structures, social relations, notions of inside and outside, the relation between the public and private realms, as well as the spatial definition of various social hierarchies. This includes processes of domination, oppression and disempowerment that are defined by architecture.
Beyond the immediate visual appeal of her intricate, architecturally inspired visual language, Mehretu’s work resonates on a highly theoretical level. A lecture given by Michel Foucault in 1967, “Of Other Spaces”, provides valuable insight in relation to the geopolitical underpinnings of Julie Mehretu’s work. In this famous lecture, Foucault argued against the traditional notion of linear time, asserting that concepts of time have been understood in various ways, under different historical circumstances. His theory relates to an understanding of space and spaces over time. He spoke at length about two types of space — utopias and heterotopias. A utopia is understood as an unreal, imagined space (such as Italo Calvino’s fictive cities). In contrast, a heterotopia is a real space that is simultaneously mythic and real (such as a sports stadium). It should be noted that Julie Mehretu doesn’t implement architectural language simply as a metaphor about space. She is specifically interested in space as it relates to power. Nonetheless, Foucault’s words are relevant to Julie Mehretu’s work:
“We are in the epoch of simultaneity: we are in the epoch of juxtaposition, the epoch of the near and far, of the side-by-side, of the dispersed. We are at a moment, I believe, when our experience of the world is less that of a long life developing through time than that of a network that connects points and intersects with its own skein.”
Julie Mehretu’s paintings and works on paper can be seen as imaginary maps that are carefully constructed from divergent, nonrelated elements that come together in a meaningful way. As such, the idea of map as metaphor is particularly relevant. Concepts of simultaneity and juxtaposition are central unifying factors that bring architecture, space, line, form, color and different notions of time together into paradoxical structures that are distanced and accessible, logical and chaotic, public and private. At the visual intersection between all these opposing factors, we can decipher endless possible meanings as quickly as they might disappear into a completely different trajectory on the exact same canvas. An idea of where we might be headed on these imaginary maps, is not nearly as important as our experience of looking at the works and appreciating the intricate details that make Julie Mehretu’s work as meaningful as it is formally appealing.
Mona Hatoum shares Julie Mehretu’s gift for creating beautiful artworks that reveal endless layers of possible meanings. Hatoum had her artistic breakthrough in the mid-1980s, when she created a series of live actions and video works involving direct physical confrontation with the audience, and often the use of her own body. Since the early 1990s her work has shifted towards large-scale installations and sculptures that balance a very fine line between conflicting emotions such as desire and revulsion, fear and fascination. Her works inspire viewers to consider issues that often play with notions of private versus public. Hatoum consistently addresses topics related to conflict, displacement and uncertainty through the use of familiar domestic objects that she transforms into threatening and sometimes dangerous sculptures. Everyday objects ranging from kitchen utensils to a baby´s cot, a rug or swings, are crafted into delicate, often painfully fragile objects of beauty, whose visual appeal is only exceeded by their deep conceptual, political and social meanings.
The two works featured in Mind the Map are perfect examples of Hatoum’s approach to objects and installations. The seats of Balançoires, 2010, are made of sandblasted glass plates with street maps of Beirut. The work weighs heavy with paradox; the quiet, poetic beauty of the glass seats is shattered by the threat of what would happen if the swings were ever to touch. Any associations to lighthearted child’s play are completely erased by the very direct political message. This work is exemplary of Hatoum’s ability to create works that attract and repel at the same time. Two beautifully crafted swings, constructed with glass seats and stainless steel chains hang delicately from the ceiling. However, the swings are reactive to almost any gentle movement in the space, and fundamentally unstable. Of particular interest are the actual maps that are carved and sand blasted onto the glass seats, featuring a map of East Beirut on one swing, and a map of West Beirut on the other. Since the two opposing sides of the city have, in the past, been caught up in a bloody sectarian conflict, the implication here is one of possible, impending disaster.
This is typical of Hatoum’s approach to visual art and her particular use of common objects to reveal various power mechanisms and social or political injustices. Baluchi (blue and orange), 2008, is another beautiful example of work that is as complex as it is to the point. The carpet looks as if in a state of disintegration as large patches of the weave appear to have been moth-eaten or somehow worn-out. On second glance one can see that the apparently random patches come together to form a recessed world map. The geographical outline of the continents creates a lasting impression that is ultimately left open for the viewer to interpret.
Throughout Mona Hatoum’s work what is implied or suggested is far more important than anything definitive. Hatoum describes it best in her own words in an interview with Janine Antoni for BOMB Magazine:
“I want the work in the first instance to have a strong formal presence, and through the physical experience to activate a psychological and emotional response. In a very general sense, I want to create a situation where reality itself becomes a questionable point. Where one has to reassess their assumptions and their relationship to things around them. A kind of self-examination and an examination of the power structures that control us: Am I jailed or the jailer? The oppressed or the oppressor? Or both? I want the work to complicate these positions and offer an ambiguity and ambivalence rather than concrete and sure answers. An object from a distance might look like a carpet made out of lush velvet, but when you approach it you realize it’s made out of stainless steel pins which turns it into a threatening and cold object rather than an inviting one. It’s not what it promises to be. So it makes you question the solidity of the ground you walk on, which is also the basis on which your attitudes and beliefs lie. When my work shifted from the obviously political, rhetorical attitude into bringing political ideas to bear through the formal and the aesthetic, the work became more of an open system.”
Issues of displacement and migration conveyed in Mona Hatoum’s work are also recurring themes for Bouchra Khalili. Khalili is recognized as an artist who works primarily with video, and has been working both in single channel and installation form for well over a decade. Her videos typically blur standard distinctions between cinema and visual art, documentary film and experimental work. She often conveys the intricacies related to the experience of migration in the transition from one place to another. Her artistic process involves documenting various places of migratory passage, through images that convey compelling narratives that speak of an ever-changing world map where the everyday lives of a steadily increasing number of individuals is defined by displacement, migration, exile and the plight for a better existence. She captures the human dimension of the places she visits with the life stories of individuals who, as a result of emigration, are literally changing the ethnic map of the world. The importance of empowerment, self-expression, and the power of speech are integral aspects of these works.
A recurring theme throughout her work is the notion of a passage or journey, often within the Mediterranean but also across the Atlantic. The places and settings that she chooses to film represent territorial, social, and political margins. The Mapping Journey Project, 2008-2011, a video installation comprised of eight single channels, is typical of her approach. With this work she conveys the complex individual stories that are part of the experience of migration and exile today. Each segment features an individual who conveys a clandestine journey that is ultimately an expression of resistance. These individuals are inventing roads that challenge geography as shaped by power, and redefining the maps that are drawn from the perspective of that power. Rather than conveying a straightforward account of their stories, in a typical documentary style, and instead of filming their faces directly, Khalili opts to let them narrate their stories while the camera focuses on other details that relate to their surroundings and experience. She highlights each vignette by filming the hands of her subjects as they sketch their journey on a map, creating a tremendously powerful metaphor for immigrants who are forced into an invisible existence.
Taking the idea of mapping one step further, Bouchra Khalili created The Constellations, 2011, a work inspired by celestial maps that also relate to geographical maps. The Constellations is the final chapter of The Mapping Journey Project, intended to reveal the poetic dimension of the whole project. The work is directly inspired by Michel Foucault’s essay Lives of Infamous Men that relates to the whole idea of singular lives that become poems through some strange twist of fate. The Constellations includes eight silkscreen prints that trace a migratory map that is transformed into a map of constellations. There is both haunting distance and timeless beauty in the transition from a geographical map to an imaginary celestial map, made up of cities that appear in the place of stars or planets. The work cleverly questions the relation between the earth and the universe, or as Khalili might describe it, between the sea and the sky. In a recent interview with Dorothea Schoene for the Ibraaz website, Khalili describes the unique significance of this aspect of her work in her own words.
“Many of my videos also refer to the sea as metaphor and metonymy, of a passing space, a space that has no landmarks, a liquid labyrinth dedicated to drift and ultimately a metaphor of exile. But there is also this political dimension to the sea, which is more obvious to certain parts of the globe - it is also a cemetery containing the bodies of those who tried to cross it illegally: in the Strait of Gibraltar, off the Sicilian coast for example, also off Malta, off Greece on the borders with Turkey and in the Atlantic on the borders between the Caribbean and the United States. This also relates to what I attempt with The Constellations. I aimed to produce an ambiguous space that refers both to the sea and the sky, blurring the limits between them, as well as blurring the limit between borders: literally erasing them, by translating the drawings of clandestine journeys into constellations of stars.”
A more direct use of actual maps, in this case found in atlases, is seen in Fabio Morais’ work. While Morais frequently works with maps, he is perhaps most widely recognized for his transformation of books into sculptures and installations. His ongoing fascination with books as objects, translates beautifully into an installation that relates to maps in their book form — the atlas. Anyone with the slightest interest in maps or cartography, born long enough before the internet era to truly appreciate the value of a beautifully detailed atlas, should enjoy his transformation of atlases into installations and objects that change the world map completely, essentially erasing all major landmasses in favor of oceans and seas.
Encontro de Mares (Meeting of the Seas), 2006, consists of a pile of atlases that are opened to pages where there is more water than land, which creates a fascinating image of the world made up of varying shades of blue and green. An island appears in the center of the installation, comprised of dictionaries in approximately 20 different languages: Portuguese, Indigenous Yanomami, Spanish, French, Italian, English, German, Greek, Swedish, Danish, Polish, Hungarian, Dutch, Russian, Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Hebrew, Arabic and Yoruba. This is a beautiful metaphor that relates to the importance of text and language for communication and understanding between cultures. This island of dictionaries/language/knowledge situated in an endless sea, reads almost like a Borgesian tale, and captures the imagination in regards to an imaginary place that is defined by multiple languages rather than just one or a few.
Oferenda à Iemanjá para um Feliz Ano Novo (Offering to Iemanjá for a Happy New Year), 2007, creates a powerful counterpoint to Encontro de Mares. This work is composed of one small atlas, and as with Encontro de Mares, the continents and islands are carefully cut out to reveal nothing but water. In the Yorubá tradition, Iemanjá is known as the mother of fish. Interestingly, in the transition to Brazil, she became known as the goddess of the sea. Brazilians typically celebrate the New Year by offering flowers, drinks and other gifts to this goddess. Morais’ formal approach to this work is highly reminiscent of his other book-based sculptures and installations. Throughout his work, Fabio Morais investigates the deconstruction of language, and plays with the mapping of text and image to construct a visual vocabulary that relates to memory, language and identity. Frequently using writers, poets and critics as the basis of his works, Morais appropriates text, language and image and uses it as a place of negotiation between artist and spectator. For Migracão (Migration), 2006, Morais transformed books into small sculptures, carving out impressions of butterflies from each of the books. Meaningful text disappears in favor of a strong visual image. The powerful and immediately recognizable shape and form of the butterflies, turns these books into small treasures, similar to how he transformed an ordinary atlas into a beautiful offering for the goddess Iemanjá.
Taking a step away from the use of existing maps brings us to the work of Vik Muniz. What appears to be a fairly straightforward image of a world map, turns out to be a photograph of a massive world map constructed out of garbage. The story behind the triptych WWW, 2008, (From the series Pictures of Junk) and the intricacies behind the creation of this particular map, are what make this work so powerful. Unlike many of the other participating artists in this exhibition, Vik Muniz doesn’t typically work with maps or cartography.
Vik Muniz is known for his use of photography to create images out of non-traditional materials — ranging from chocolate and peanut butter to dirt, toys and garbage. For the Pictures of Junk series, Muniz made use of all kinds of garbage, ranging from crushed soda cans to discarded clothing, old tires and outdated computers, to create captivating images inspired by master paintings. Working on the outskirts of Rio, in a space the size of a basketball court, Muniz collaborated with art students from the favela on this project. Each photograph took a month and a half to create, and began with a basic outline of an image that he sketched on the floor in advance. Working with a laser pointer from a scaffold situated high above the floor, Muniz then directed his crew in placing various bits of garbage onto the floor to create the desired image. Finally, he captured the image from this vantage point using a large-format camera.
When it comes to appropriating from art history and adding something significant to the equation that is of social and societal relevance, Vik Muniz really stands out. Ultimately his stunning iconographical re-interpretations help unveil what is rotten beneath the surface of our society. When he chose to re-create and photograph masterpieces from art history with the use of garbage as his paintbrush, he not only moved some of the most notable icons of art history into the present, he also moved people’s lives in the process.
The Pictures of Junk series stands out within contemporary art practice, particularly in terms of Muniz’s long-term collaboration with the residents of Jardim Gramacho, Rio de Janeiro’s and Latin America’s largest garbage dump. As conveyed in the award-winning documentary film, Waste Land, (2010) these large-scale arrangements of garbage feature portraits of the catadores who live and work to collect and sell recyclable and scrap materials. With the help of the catadores, who were paid for scavenging, selecting, and organizing the refuse material, Muniz created images of Old Master paintings using buckets, fridges, clothes, plastic bottles, toilet seats, wheels and rusted chains and other junk to make versions of well-known works such as Goya, Saturn Devouring His Son; Caravaggio, Narcissus; David, The Death of Marat; Millet, The Sower; Picasso, Woman Ironing, and Guercino, Atlas. It could be said that although WWW, 2008 is perhaps not quite as romantic as the other works inspired by master paintings, it bears a tremendously powerful message regarding human consumption and waste; the continued and increasing accumulation of waste will eventually change the outline of the world map forever.
Susan Stockwell, an artist who works with maps and other metaphors, also addresses environmental concerns through her work. Africa, 2012, is a perfect example. Comprised of PC motherboards, this work makes specific reference to the 'digital maps' laid out on these technological panels, and the physical shape of the continent that has made the construction of these motherboards possible. It is fairly common knowledge that many of the rare and essential materials used to create computers and mobile phones, are mined in Africa. In the worst instances, the labor conditions for the workers involved in this process are an infringement on human rights, which is especially shocking considering the level of technology that these individuals make possible.
In using discarded maps and other materials to create beautifully crafted objects, sculptures and installations, Susan Stockwell’s works invariably convey the importance of recycling and ecology. Her 2013 installation Sail Away at Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, is a perfect example of her unique talent for transforming detritus such as maps, paper money and tickets into visual art with deep political and social implications. This is also the case with Imperial Quilt, 2005, which is comprised of maps of the world collected from old atlases that are hand stitched into a traditional patchwork quilt. This particular map is sewn together with a strong political thread; featuring the Middle East at the center and a swatch of America woven into every continent.
Also featured in Mind the Map is Highland Dress, 2010. This work is part of a series of life-size dresses constructed from antiquated maps and currency that relate specifically to aspects of British history. This particular dress is composed of ordinance survey maps of the Scottish Highlands, addressing the issue of English colonization and occupation of Scotland over 300 years. This is particularly relevant at the moment, with talk of Scottish independence. As is often the case with Stockwell’s work, no detail is left to chance, and the use of military maps to create an ornate woman’s dress is no exception. Susan Stockwell can be described as a sculptor who makes subtly political work about materials and their inherent content and histories, with injustice and inequality as overarching themes. In her appropriation of maps and atlases, the geographic boundaries defined on maps are blurred in favor of conveying strong political, social, ecological and feminist issues.
Miler Lagos’ video Lat 65.31 N Long 114.13 W, 2011, relates to a very specific point on the world map. His works are typically inspired by observations of nature, as well as an exploration of various phenomena that affect the balance of nature. During an artistic residency in Canada in 2011, Miler Lagos investigated the experiences of early Arctic explorers who contributed to the study and knowledge of natural resources in this remote region of the world. Inspired by this research, he created Lat 65.31 N Long 114.13 W in the same geographical place where nineteenth century expeditions took place to find the English explorer Sir John Franklin.
According to Lagos: “Lat 65.31 N Long 114.13 W involves an inquiry about the place of the gaze towards nature itself, an expansion of the outreach of the visual experience that turns landscape into a sublime spectacle”. What makes this work so interesting is the idea of geography and landscape not in general terms, but as they relate to a specific coordinate on a map, as well as the implied relation between reality and representation.
Attention is shifted from mapping in the most literal sense, to focus instead on a very specific geographical point on a map. The exact coordinates indicate the location where the film was shot, while many of the sequences bring to mind the most contemporary of all maps — satellite maps. The contrast between an antiquated paper map and an exact digital image of almost any location on the earth, is interesting in itself. The work reveals the extent to which our perception of maps as definitive, truthful documents has changed through the years. Our understanding of this work is ultimately affected by our familiarity with satellite maps, but what really captures our attention over time is the quiet beauty of the work. Just as the traditional maps seen throughout this exhibition aren’t simply maps, this video is far more than a complication of images that you might find on Google Maps. Additional layers of meaning, various notions of time and place, a strong link between past and present and a sense of what this very specific geographical point on the map represents, all make this work resonate on both a visual and theoretical level.
With a map of Latin America as the starting point, Kevin Simón Mancera’s project La Felicidad (Happiness), 2012, charts a pilgrimage to seven different towns called Felicidad. This particular work evokes the underlying sense of romanticism and hope tied to almost any journey, especially when traveling to unknown places. Mancera’s project involved a very unusual road trip. He traveled to places that are of little interest aside from the fact that they all bear the same name. With sketchbooks and a camera he was prepared to document his discoveries, as if he were a nineteenth century explorer, and the results are truly captivating. His painstakingly detailed and often humorous drawings bring life and humanity to these out-of-the-way places on the map. The project features seven sketchbooks filled with drawings and comments about his travels, while a photograph of each of the seven places hangs on the wall.
La Felicidad involves an extremely subtle reference to mapping. This work captures the open and fluid nature of an exhibition that enables us to move in and out of time, through completely different geographic regions, from the historical to the contemporary, from medium to medium, without ever losing the realization that we are navigating uncharted terrain. We are met with an approach to contemporary art, which defies all definitive boundaries, definitions or strict interpretations. With these maps as our guide, our individual journeys can lead in any direction. It is in the choices and observations we make along the way that we can make sense of these disparate and diverging maps and world views. This will hopefully inspire us to think beyond the boundaries of our own national borders, to consider just how strikingly similar these different maps and world views really are. It turns out that what appears to be completely disconnected is in fact completely interconnected, as if we were transported directly into an imaginary map created by Jorge Luis Borges.