Whose Map is it? is the latest show to open at Iniva. Kicking off with a symposium on 2 June with delegates from around the world, this show is incredibly relevant on so many levels. Nine contemporary international artists question the underlying structures and hierarchies that inform traditional mapmaking. They provide individual insights that inscribe new, often omitted perspectives onto the map.
Maps are the visual manifestation of the social, economic and political stratification of the world. We look at certain areas and countries, and identities emerge, from money & power to oil & war. Granted these are surface judgements and stereotypes, which are often based on media representation, and although there may be some truth, the map plays a crucial role in creating these definitions. Maps and geographic locations in the broadest context underpin our worldviews. It’s not only about the physical location, but also the concept of nationhood and identity construction.
The show includes film, installation, print and audio, which are used to challenge the authority of the map and explore wider social and political issues. Whose Map is it? includes three new commissions by Gayle Chong Kwan, Susan Stockwell and Emma Wolukau-Wanambwa, alongside recent work by Milena Bonilla, Alexandra Handal, Bouchra Khalili, Otobong Nkanga, Esther Polak and Oraib Toukan.
For centuries artists have been drawn to the subject of maps to examine self- positioning and global geographies. The artists in Whose Map is it? continue this process by challenging the objective nature of the map. The exhibition opens a dialogue about contemporary experiences of space, and the meaning of the map today. Everyone has an experience, a journey and a story to tell.
Maps are part of debates around subjects such as resources, territoriality, identity and migration. Globalisation has changed how we see the world and the two dimensional map no longer represents the rapidly changing trans-national, multi-authored world that we live in. Our ideas of the map have also changed as a result of increasing access to GIS (Geographical Information System) and new technologies such as GPS (Global Positioning System).
Whose Map is it? combines a complex understanding of maps and how geography influences our lives. Can we re-define the map or will it always define us? Whose Map is it? examines this question in great detail.
With the installation, film, sculpture, print and audio on view, this show provides an immersive experience, and ultimately makes you think about your own place in the world, the perfect mix of universal and individual.
The show continues until 24 July at Rivington Place, London, EC2A 3BA. Free entry. www.iniva.org
Exhibiting artists’ work and biographies:
Milena Bonilla shows Variations on a homogeneous landscape (2006), this series of 27 posters depicts a dislocated map of America, questioning scientific means of cartography and its relation to landscape and history. Milena Bonilla was born in 1975 in Bogotá, Colombia and lives and works in Amsterdam, Netherlands. She is currently artist in residence at Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten in Amsterdam. In 2008 she held a solo-exhibition at Valenzuela Klenner Gallery in Bogotá. Recent group exhibitions include X Havana Biennial, Havana (2009), BB3 Bucharest Biennial at Simeza in Bucharest and Umea in Sweden (2008), and Once More With Feeling: A Season of Colombian Photography at the Photographers’ Gallery, London (2008).
Gayle Chong Kwan presents Save the Last Dance for Me, the work consists of a large-scale map illustrating Laban notation techniques to record the movement and migration of a culturally specific dance, accompanied by a sound piece giving gallery visitors dance instructions. Gayle Chong Kwan was born in 1973 in Edinburgh, UK and lives and works in London, UK. Her recent solo-exhibitions include Terroir and the Pathetic Fallacy, ArtSway (2009); The Land of Peach Blossom, Graves Gallery, Sheffield (2008); Memoryscape Moravia (2009); Cockaigne and Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Platform for Art (2006-8). Group exhibitions include Pot Luck, Art Circuit (touring exhibition), New Art Gallery Walsall, UK (2008-9) and Tales of the New World, Havana Biennial (2009).
Alexandra Handal’s Labyrinth of Remains and Migration (2000/01) is a series of mental maps charting spaces of obliteration, dispossession, memory and destruction in Palestine. Alexandra Handal was born in 1975 in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and lives and works in London, UK and Jerusalem, Israel. Her recent exhibitions include: New Contemporaries, A Foundation, London and Cornerhouse Manchester UK (2009); Akhir al Layl/At the end of the night, Art Dubai 2009. Solo exhibitions include Alexandra Handal, Recent Work, International Center of Bethlehem, Al-Kahf Gallery, Bethlehem, Palestine (2004). She is currently completing a PhD in Fine Art (Practice & Theory) at Chelsea College of Art and Design, London, UK.
Bouchra Khalili shows the film series Mapping Journey #1, #2, #3 (2008/09) aiming to reveal the underground and hidden maps of displacement that migratory experience produces. Bouchra Khalili was born in 1975 in Casablanca, Morocco and lives and works in Paris, France. Her recent solo-exhibitions include Storytellers, galerieofmarseille, Marseille (2008); Focus on Bouchra Khalili, Museum of Modern Art, Salvador do Bahia, Brazil (2007); Méditerranée, Méditerranées, Caixa Forum of Art, Barcelona (2006). Group exhibitions include Tarjama/Translation., Queens Museum of Art, New York (2009); El Sur de Nuevo Reina Sofia National Museum, Madrid (2009), Middle East Channel: Résistance(s) I & II, and The Third Guangzhou Triennial, Guangzhou, China (2008). In 2010 Bouchra received the CulturesFrance Hors les Murs Award.
Otobong Nkanga includes Delta Stories (2005/06) which is a series of 18 drawings, narrating ecological, political and social transformation in the oil rich Delta region in Nigeria. Otobong Nkanga was born in 1974 in Kano, Nigeria and lives and works in Antwerp, Belgium and Paris, France. She has exhibited widely internationally. Recent shows include: Animism, Extra City Kunsthal and MuHKA Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst, Antwerp (2010); Flow, Studio Museum Harlem, New York (2008); Africa Remix (touring exhibition), Hayward Gallery, London (2005); Snap judgments: New Positions in African Contemporary Photography, touring exhibition New York (2006). In the last five years, she participated in the Sharjah, Taipei, Dakar, São Paulo and Havana Biennials.
Esther Polak’s NomadicMILK (2009) follows dairy transporters and Fulani nomadic herdsmen in Nigeria, mapping both their routes with GPS to visualize the variety and economics of dairy transportation that take place throughout Nigeria. Esther Polak was born in 1962 in Amsterdam, Netherlands and lives and works there. She is a pioneer within the field of locative media art. Recent exhibitions of NomadicMILK include Bayero University, Kano, Nigeria (2009), Transmediale, Berlin (2009). Other exhibitions include Spiral Drawing Sunrise Medialab, Prado, Madrid (2008), Ars Electronica, Linz, Austria (2005), Making Things Public, ZKM Karlsruhe, Germany (2005) and AmsterdamREALTIME-diary in traces, Municipal Arvive, Amserdam (2002).
Susan Stockwell’s work is concerned with issues of ecology, beauty, mapping, colonial histories, trade and global commerce. For Whose Map is it? Stockwell was commissioned to produce the site-specific window piece Red Road Arteries (2010). Susan Stockwell was born in Manchester and lives and works in London, UK. She has exhibited at The National Museum of China, Beijing and The Katonah Museum of Art, USA. She will be part of the group shows Quilts from 1700 to the Present Day, Victoria and Albert Museum, London (2010), and The Creative Compass, The Royal Geographical Society Gallery, London (2010)
Oraib Toukan presents The New(er) Middle East (2007), an interactive puzzle in the shape of a territorial map of the Middle East, humorously playing on the so-called ‘New Middle East Map’ suggested by an US Army Lieutenant. Oraib Toukan was born 1977 in Boston, USA and lives and works in Amman, Jordan and New York, USA. Her recent shows include Istanbul Biennial (2009), Talking Heads, IMOCA, Dublin (2010) and Counting Memories, Darat Al Funun Amman (2007). In 2009 she was international resident artist at Delfina Foundation, London and at Artist Alliance, New York.
Emma Wolukau–Wanambwa’s new commission includes charts that juxtapose British narratives of exploration and conquest with touchstones, landmarks, peaks and triumphs of British bourgeois life. Emma Wolukau–Wanambwa was born 1976 in Glasgow, and lives and works in London, UK. Currently Emma is participating in the LUX Artists Associate Programme, London. Recent solo-shows include A Brush for Robben Island, Butcher’s Projects at Rokeby Gallery, London, UK (2008). She participated in selected exhibitions and screenings including Complex Financial Instruments, S1 Artspace, Sheffield (2009); Wo ist Jetzt?/ Where is Now?, Würtembergischer Kunstverein, Stuttgart, Germany (2008); and Bang Hwang Ha Num Byul/ Wandering Star: British-Korean Landscape, Gana Art Gallery, Seoul, Korea (2008).
Susan Stockwell, River of Blood 2010
Vinyl cut-out, 3.73 x 8.5m
Copyright the artist. Photo: Theirry Bal
Milena Bonilla, Variations on a homogenous landscape (detail) 2006
Series of 27 posters, each 21.5 x 28cm
Photograph courtesy of the artist
Bouchra Khalili, Mapping Journey #1 (film still) 2008
Video. Courtesy of galerieofmarseille. Produced with the support of Artschool Palestine. Copyright the artist