Maps Out of Place: displacing cartography in the realm of contemporary art

Room H
Wednesday, 2 September 2015
08.30 – 10.15
art practices, map, postcolonialism

As Brian Harley wrote “maps are too important to be left to cartographers alone” (2001: 239). Not for nothing maps have played a pivotal role as weapons of imperialism, as discursive formations disciplining the link between academic practice and political power and acting as social hieroglyphics in the words of Marx.

The aim of this paper is plotting a course towards a divergent use of map-making as creative process and as a set of tactics to destabilize, challenge and re-imagine geographical mapping practices, moving beyond\behind their direct link with power, war and the male Western “episteme”.

What is at stake in this provisional critical route is to understand what function and dysfunction, epistemological possibilities or aporias can affect the “modern cartographic ideal” when we displace maps in the world of contemporary art. For instance, looking at those works where the geometry of power is revealed, the bodies strike back, geopolitics and intimate spaces act as a singularity and maps eventually crumble.

The value of “deterritorialised epistemologies” (Rogoff 2001) is the chance, sometimes risky, to grasp those alternative representational practices that can emerge through the strategic opening of boundaries of different disciplines.

After all, as Edward Said (2000) reminds us, “being out of place” - in this circumstance on the blurred border or in-between different fields of knowledge - can be an ideal condition to deconstruct, blemish and rebuild languages and practices of research.

Laura Lo Presti
University of Palermo
laura.lopresti1989 [at]

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