Thursday, 28 April 2011

The Map as Art: Contemporary Artists Explore Cartography by Katherine Harmon and Gayle Clemans

Book Review

If you like maps, this is the book for you.  If you love maps, you will be in heaven! 

The book is thick and weighty, and every page is a delight. It contains work by over 150 artists or artist groups and is divided into 7 sections including Conflict and Sorrow; Animal, Vegetable, Mineral; Inner Visions.  There are also 5 longer essays about artists who work with maps.

It is almost impossible for maps not to have a political content, which is perhaps why I love them.  William Pope.L's 'The Great White Way: 22 miles, 5 years, 1 street (2002) is a documentation of the artist crawling across New York on his belly, in a piece that refers to immigrant history and the endurance required of African Americans to survive.  

Guillermo Kuikca, an Argentine artist who grew up during the brutal dictatorship of 1976-83, and who is featured in an essay, creates work which exposes a lack of human connection. While Brazilian artist Vic Muniz works with local youth to make huge installations depicting maps of the world, made from junk found in the surrounding area.

Qin Ga followed the Long March Project's recreation of the Long March, a 6000 mile journey across China which resulted in the rise to power of Mao Zedong, by tattooing the journey across his back. Paula Scher makes geographic paintings to help her deal with the overload of information.

The variety of work is vast, but the theme holds together and results in an inspiring and beautiful book.  Highly recommended!

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