Sweet Home: Alabama’s History in Maps “is an exhibit presented by the Birmingham Public Library in celebration of Alabama’s bicentennial. The Library’s Southern History Department has carefully selected over 50 maps from our world class collection to tell the story of Alabama. The maps in this exhibit represent 450 years of exploration, expansion, and development.” It opens Wednesday and runs through the end of April; there’s also an online version. Alabama Newscenter. [Tony Campbell]
Where Disaster Strikes: Modern Space and the Visualization of Destruction, an exhibition of disaster maps, is taking place now until 19 April at Harvard’s Pusey Library.
Floods, fires, earthquakes, volcanoes, bombings, droughts, and even alien invasions: disaster can take many forms. And, although disasters are always felt dramatically, a disaster’s form and location impacts who records its effects and what forms those records take. “Where Disaster Strikes” investigates the intertwined categories of modern space and disaster through the Harvard Map Collection’s maps of large destructive events from the London Fire to the present.
Open to the public. The exhibition also has a substantial online presence.
Engraved in Copper: The Art of Mapping Minnesota opened this week at the University of Minnesota’s Elmer L. Andersen Library. “This exhibit highlights unique engraved copper plates used to print topographic maps of Minnesota in the early 1900s, surveying and mapmaking techniques, and government documents related to the process. The plates are part of the evolution of government mapping and the history of the United States Geological Survey, from early mapping efforts to Geographic Information Systems.” Runs until 22 May.
An exhibition of fantasy maps, Worlds Imagined: The Maps of Imaginary Places Collection, opens Friday at Texas A&M University’s Cushing Memorial Library and Archives. “The maps included are part of an ongoing effort by [Texas A&M’s] Maps and GIS [Library] and the Science Fiction & Fantasy Research Collection to develop a shared collection of maps of imaginary places. Cushing is known worldwide for its collection of science fiction and fantasy materials, even housing [George R. R.] Martin’s personal collection of memorabilia.” Worlds Imagined runs until 10 October 2017. [Thanks, Alex.]
Previously: Fantasy Maps Exhibit at St. Louis Central Library.
Another map exhibition I neglected to mention yesterday: Utah Drawn: An Exhibition of Rare Maps runs from 27 January to late summer 2017 at the Utah Capitol Building in Salt Lake City; it features “forty rare historical maps depicting the region that became the state of Utah from its earliest imaginings by European cartographers to Utah’s modern state’s boundaries.” [Tony Campbell]
California as an Island and Worlds That Never Were, an exhibition of maps from the Roy V. Boswell Collection for the History of Cartography at California State University at Fullerton. Runs from 22 January to 29 March at CSU Fullerton’s Pollak Library. News release. [WMS]
Mapping Texas: From Frontier to the Lone Star State features maps spanning more than 400 years of Texas history, mostly from the Texas General Land Office, as well as two museums and private collectors. Runs from 27 January to 8 October at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. News release. [WMS]
An exhibition of Sohei Nishino’s work is taking place right now at SFMOMA, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. In his Diorama Map series, Nishino assembles patchwork-quilt aerial views of cities from thousands of his photographs; each city is thrown deep into its own uncanny valley. Here’s an Atlas Obscura profile
An exhibition opening this week at the Jane Lombard Gallery in Manhattan features, among others, the work of Christine Gedeon, an artist who “uses a sewing machine, fabric and paint on raw canvas to create improvisational stitched ‘plots’ that toe the line between abstraction and landscape. Examining issues of the urban environment, cartography, and urban planning, Gedeon investigates how humans interact with each other and our built environment to form relationships, narratives, and identities.” Examples of Gedeon’s stitched work can be found at her website.
Running until 30 November at the Penarth Pier Pavilion in Penarth, Wales, Dyma Gariad (fel y moroedd)/Here is a love (deep as oceans) is an exhibition by Welsh artist Iwan Bala. It’s an angry, provocative collection of caricatures and maps about Brexit, from a strongly Remain perspective, done in a style described by the Penarth Times as “the rapid often stumbled, crossed out, corrected, blotted, re-adjusted rush to put thoughts on paper and the attempt of a poet to capture a line before it ebbs in the memory.” As the Pavilion describes the exhibition:
Responding to the result of the electorate’s vote on the UK’s EU membership, Bala began to make (alongside politicized ‘maps’), satirical caricatures of the principle [sic] players in the lead up to and result of Brexit. An Artist has a duty to comment, protest and become an agent provocateur through the medium of visual communication. Cartoons have a long and illustrious history, and have always lurked somewhere in the background environs of his artwork.
They may have been anticipating some pushback—the exhibition also had a content warning—and indeed the exhibition has gotten some angry responses sufficient that the Pavilion had to issue a statement defending their decision to host it. That alone tells me it was a success: art provokes. [WMS]
Fantasy maps increased in number during the 20th century due to the rise of science fiction and fantasy writing, and the birth of television and video games.
Many of them are products of the wildest imaginations, and are immersive places of escapism. Yet all of them retain vestiges of the ‘real’ world in which they were created—whether because of a particular feature illustrated in it, the way in which it has been drawn, or even the ‘real-world’ contexts which inspired it.
Harper’s examples aren’t what someone well-versed in fantasy fiction would expect: they include Milne and Tolkien, but also Sleigh’s 1918 map of Fairyland (above), San Serriffe, and other maps of the unreal from outside genre fiction. (A reminder that fantasy map does not only mean map accompanying a secondary-world fantasy novel in the Tolkien tradition.)
The thirty-nine maps on display range widely in geography and in time. The earliest maps circa 1522-1532 are depictions of “Discovering America” according to seven cartographers of different European countries. The most recent maps reveal the United States’ claim to the “highlands” of Témiscouata and Britain’s claim to the “highlands” of Mars Hill, Maine before a compromise led to the Treaty of Webster-Ashburton of August 9, 1842 and the adoption of the St. John River as the international boundary between New Brunswick and Maine.
Maps and the 20th Century: Drawing the Line opens today at the British Library. It runs until 1 March 2017. Admission is £12, with reduced-price and free admissions in some cases.
The Guardian’s Mark Brown and the Spectator’s Stephen Bayley have long and thoughtful pieces about the exhibition. The Independent’s Simon Calder is somewhat more solipsistic, but observes that this exhibition “might prove to be a wintry retrospective on the summer of peak cartography.”
There was also a segment on BBC Breakfast (using music from The Lord of the Rings was a bit of cognitive dissonance); the clip is available on Twitter:
— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast) November 3, 2016
The British Library’s Maps and Views blog has a sample of the maps on display.
As you’d expect from a major exhibition like this, a companion book is out this week from the British Library. It’s available from Amazon UK in both hardcover and paperback; those of us in North America will have to wait a bit until it turns up here.
A couple of reviews of recent map exhibitions that I’ve mentioned before. First, the Arctic Journal looks at the Osher Map Library’s current exhibition, The Northwest Passage: Navigating Old Beliefs and New Realities (see previous entry). And the St. Louis Library’s fantasy maps exhibit (see previous entry), which wrapped up earlier this month, got a writeup from Book Riot. [Book Riot/Osher Maps]
Gregor Turk’s Conflux is on display at Spalding Nix Fine Art in Atlanta, Georgia until October 28. Conflux “features wall-mounted box-like maps of global choke points, strategic locations where passage by land or sea is constricted. Coastlines are depicted as alternating positive and negative cut-outs, framed in a grid and wrapped with repurposed rubber (bicycle inner tubes). Shadows and negative space come into play with the stark structures.” Turk’s past art includes ceramics and public art installations inspired by topographic and city maps; see also his 49th Parallel Project. [The Map as Art]
Matthew Picton’s wall-mounted sculptures constructed from paper and vellum provide aerial views of urban environments. Unlike street maps, Picton’s representations are at once cartographic, topographical and cultural, incorporating period-specific texts and popular culture ephemera. In The Fall, Picton aims to illuminate periods of struggle and transition in societies and cultures that underwent seismic upheavals through the lens of literary and cinematic imagery. These works place elements of film posters and stills within the cartographic landscape of the city in which they are set, exploring the inversions of power and authority and the moral upending of society and civilization.