Two of my loves in life are art and geography; and, it seems, there are others that share my passions. Recently, increasing numbers of artists are incorporating the themes of geography into their art.
The Donna Seager Gallery in San
Rafael, California, is currently housing Devorah Jacoby’s newest collection entitled “Geography”. Her art, done mostly in oil paints, has
a raw, impressionistic quality and features parts of maps and other clues that take
the viewer to places both real and imagined. Jacoby’s intent is “to help us find our bearings.”
Another exhibit with geography as muse is “Experimental Geography,” a compilation of work from a variety of artists put together by curator Nato Thompson. According to Thompson, the exhibition “explores ‘the distinctions between geographical study and artistic experience of the earth, as well as the juncture where the two realms collide (and possibly make a new field altogether.)’”
One of the many artists included in the show is Lize Mogel. Mogel contributed to “An Atlas of Radical Cartography,” a collection of politically charged maps and essays. The atlas includes a world map that places Australia in the upper center of the map and puts the Western world powers in the lower half of the map. Although at first glance it seems to be a radical theme, the idea of politics influencing mapping has been around as long as mapping has.
The first time political influences on mapping were formally brought to my attention was in a “People and Places” class at UNC-Chapel Hill. We discussed Jeremy W. Crampton’s “Maps as social constructions: power, communication and visualization” and his contention that there are many more factors that go into producing a map than just landforms and roads. For example, take a look at the following maps:
A world map that has been flipped upside down, placing Australia in the upper central location, in contrast to the traditional world map that places Western Europe in that spot.
Image courtesy of Australia Fare
This is a map of Belgium in the shape of a lion. The map was in a book about the Dutch War of Independence, authored by Famiano Strada that was originally printed in 1632. The lion is used to emit a sense of strength.
Image courtesy of Cartographic Associates
This medieval world map shows the continents
of Europe, Africa, and Asia in the shape of the body of Christ with Jerusalem
Image courtesy of Verso L'estrema Thule
[Translation: “Italian Traveling to the North”]
The key fact to remember when looking at a map is that it is a representation of reality, and not reality itself. There is no way to be exact when transferring a 3D object on to a 2D surface; therefore someone has to make the decisions on what to include on the map.
These artists are putting a
new twist on an old idea, as well as bringing the two worlds of art and geography
These artists are putting a new twist on an old idea, as well as bringing the two worlds of art and geography together.
Another geography inspired art show:
Marie for My Wonderful World