Maps, Art, Stereotypes and Controversies

BELGIUM-EU-CZECH-EXHIBITION Here is an interesting example of how the interaction between art and cartography can become quite controversial. The sculpture of Czech artist David Cerny maps out the major stereotype associated to each European country. Looking at this succession of maps of clichés, the question remains: is it a subtle way of conveying multiple meanings in what may seem at first a bunch of very simplistic cliché maps? Or is it just a bunch of very simplistic cliché maps?
Thanks to Tracey Lauriault for pointing out this controversy.

Cities of the World: Titus Matiyane

Cities of the World -exhibition and book- shows the work of South African artist Titus Matiyane. Born in 1964, Matiyane is a sculptor, artist and musician who lives and works in Atteridgeville, a township near Pretoria, South Africa. He is one of many artists whose relationship to township life and the expanding urbanism of the modernist capitals of South Africa produced a particular fascination with both the growth and the transformation of these urban environments.

Matiyane makes drawings of cities and landscapes, and creates huge panorama drawings of cities and landscapes from a bird’s-eye view. The large-size panoramic landscape drawings are emblematic of his obsession with the built environment and modern cities. The wide format of his ’bird’s eye’ panoramas (6, 12, 24, 46 x 1.5 m) is intended to mesmerize and compel the viewer towards Matiyane’s personal sense of technical and visionary skill.

These colourful drawings overwhelm the viewers and take them on an extended journey through an urban landscape. The panoramas, which he has been making since 1990, give the impression that the artist has observed the cities from the air, while in fact he only flew for the first time in 1998.

An exhibition took place during 2007 and 2008 in many European cities. If missed it, you can always enjoy the book!

Edited by Annemieke de Kler.
Highly recommended.
Website of the editor:  http://www.artsandafrica.com (under contruction)

The Atlas of Radical Cartography at “The Triangle”

The counter cartographies collective (or 3Cs) will host Community Cartographies Convergence and exhibition this fall. This will be a great opportunity to see the traveling exhibition An Atlas of Radical Cartography and to interact with some activists, artists and cartographers. The exhibit will take place at “The Triangle” in September and October 2008. The question is: where is “the Triangle”? You can ask countercartographies@unc.edu

Uncoordinated: Mapping Cartography in Contemporary Art

Stefana McClure, Map of the World (Central Europe), 2006, cut paper, 22\If you plan to be in Cincinnati, OH (USA) this summer, you may want to stop by the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) which curates an exhibit entitled: “Uncoordinated: Mapping Cartography in Contemporary Art.” Denis Wood was invitated to give a lecture in the context of this exhibit on June 9, 2008 (too late!). His ideas and persectives have definitely influenced this project as illustrated by the following statement from the web site of the CAC:

This exhibition addresses the subjective nature of mapping, how we locate ourselves in consideration of changing boundaries and territories, and how we give visual form to boundaries, territories and land masses. Artists in this exhibition confront the politics of naming of places, cartographic attacks on ethnic sensitivity, maps as evidence in boundary disputes, extension of terrestrial boundaries into nautical masses, and maps as scientific and political voice.

Thanks again to Tracey Lauriault for sharing this info.

Do-It-Yourself Smell Map

Smell Map by Jenny Marketou

Smell is slowly making its way to cartography, as illustrated by this installation by artists Jenny Marketou at the Esther M. Klein Art Gallery in Philadelphia (PA, USA):

“Smell It: A Do-It-Yourself Smell Map is an interactive visitor project created specifically for this exhibition. Visitors will be given a street map and then invited to walk around the neighborhood to record their olfactory experiences. Back in the gallery, viewers can add their odorous encounters to a wall-sized, collectively-drawn map to show the diversity of subjective responses to smell and the shifting of the neighborhood’s smellscape from one day to the next.

While smells are expected in the context of nature or in rural areas, to discover the olfactory in the midst of the concrete jungle is both a challenge and a thrill.”

Thanks to Tracey Lauriault (who has been doing a lot of work on smell and cartography) for sharing this info.

Julie Mehretu at the Williams College Museum of Art (London)

Stadia II, Ink and Acrylic on Canvas 108 x 144 in. (274.32 x 365.76 cm) Collection of The Carnegie Museum

Nigel Thrift is “a great admirer of the intricately layered, flickering topographies of Julie Mehretu, the Ethiopian-American artist. Though one can see all kinds of echoes in her work – the historical push of Delacroix and Goya, the geometric swirls and abstractions of Kandinsky, Klee, Malevich and Mondrian, the enveloping wash of colour field painting, the various iconic and graphical moments that act as the frames of popular culture, such as brands and comic books and tattoos, the kinds of excerpt protest represented by practices as different as those of graffiti artists, propagandists and situationists, and the poetics of contemporary architects like Hadid or Ando – I think she also produces something new, a sense of what high-velocity hybrid landscapes made up of many kinds of actor and of plural events happening at many locations might look/feel/work like.” (Thrift 2006, 139)

The work of Julie Mehretu appears in many recent books on art and maps, and as pointed out by Tracey Lauriault, the Williams College Museum of Art currently exhibit her work ‘City Sitings’.

Syracuse (NY) – An Atlas: Radical Cartography Exhibition

Pedro Lasch - Gu�as de Ruta / Route Guides, 2003/2006 - LATINO/A AMERICA series

From the Post Standard:

“Syracuse, NY: Redhouse, An Atlas, a nationally traveling art exhibition. The show runs from Tuesday February 5th, 2008 to Wednesday March 12th, 2008.

About the exhibition: An Atlas is a nationally traveling exhibition of artists working with “radical cartography”-a practice that uses maps and mapping to promote social change, and that is part of a cultural movement that links art, geography, and activism. The participating artists, architects, and collectives in the exhibition play with cartographic convention-geographic shapes, wayfinding symbols, and aerial views- in order to take on issues from globalization to garbage.

About the Book: An Atlas of Radical Cartography is a collection of 10 maps and 10 essays about social issues from globalization to garbage; surveillance to extraordinary rendition; statelessness to visibility; deportation to migration. The map is inherently political– and the contributions to this book wear their politics on their sleeves. An Atlas of Radical Cartography provides a critical foundation for an area of work that bridges art/design, cartography/geography, and activism. The maps and essays in this book provoke new understandings of networks and representations of power and its effects on people and places. These new perceptions of the world are the prerequisites of social change. An Atlas of Radical Cartography book will be available for purchase at Redhouse.”

Thank you to Don Mitchell for sharing this information. For more information on the atlas, you can visit www.an-atlas.com