Saturday, March 06, 2010


Looking at maps one can go on journies, in our minds we can travel from place to place, geographical truths can make way to fantasies. The landscape and built environments can become a fantasy of our imagination, the real can meld with the fictional landscape we create around the points of truth to become something altogether more expansive than just a chart or map might at first appear. The manner in which a map is annotated suggests to the viewer many readings even though the information is replicated in scale and format in many other printed forms, colours of roads, the detailing of topography and even variations in typeset for the names of places depicted can alter our perception of how the real geography may manifest itself.

Kathy Prendergast has employed maps in her art works for some time now and her alterations and adaptions of maps subvert their very use into something more poignant and reflective. For her current exhibition at the Peer Gallery she takes a variety of maps from around the world and using black ink obscures names and geographies leaving just the white dots of settlements left unobscured. Reaching out of this thick covering of black ink, the remaining settlements appear as constellations, like early humans we seek to create shapes recognisable through this dotted information. One might assume this is a starry eyed optimism in urbanism or perhaps a simple meditation on the immensity of the landscape that surround us.

Within this blackened, flattened inky landscape the printed ink underneath when caught by light glows almost golden but then is lost once again to the shadows, colour fights to permeate the darkness of the inky black covering. Scale is lost, information obscured. Across this suite of works of maps from a variety of different countries one observes the flow of settlements, the landscapes integration of differing population densities within its larger physical body. The maps return us to the true geography rather than the pared down easily recognisable flat chart or chartings of an easily recognisable map, framed and behind glass the maps show even more than usual its surface of ripples and folds the maps become like the landscape itself, a flowing physical mass, the dots of human activity a recognition of humanity existing in a larger powerful physical environment.

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