August 25th, 2012 - November 3rd, 2012
Galveston is the city of maps. More so than any other place we know the people here tend to collect maps. Maps of the city hang in their homes, their offices, and their public spaces. When you live on a sliver of sand, dead center in hurricane alley, mapping is a way of fixing yourself to a place, however temporal. In MAPPING GALVESTON the Galveston Artist Residency looks at our relationship to mapping and the attempt at, or failure to achieve, a reductive control over a place that is quite literally and dramatically shifting under our feet.
For MAPPING GALVESTON, GAR teamed up with Kristopher Benson, a scientist at NOAA who looks at maps more than most people and certainly with more passion and curiosity. We began by innocently asking him what maps interest him and weeks later found ourselves exhausted and more than a bit overwhelmed having been whisked through a dark labyrinth of musty government offices. And we only scratched the surface.
We saw historical maps showing the first hallucinogenic attempts by Spanish and French explorers at drawing the coastlines. We saw the strangely imagined “birds eye” maps of the mid 1800’s. There are “Fire Maps” and “Storm Maps” and we went on a fruitless quest for the perhaps mythical “Map of the Dead”. There are the multitude of data maps that show with painstaking detail the loss of coastline due to erosion and sea level rise and loss of wetland habitat. These maps were the most difficult to study because there was no way around it. To look clearly at these you have to face the reality that someday there will be a Galveston map that is nothing but a submerged sandbar with the odd building jutting out, mirrored in the surrounding Gulf, like the rotting teeth of Baal.
If these maps exist as reminders of the need humans have to control the uncontrollable, the second set of maps present an interesting counterpoint. For MAPPING GALVESTON GAR invited ten artists that we felt had an interesting connection to Galveston to contribute their own maps to the exhibition. These “Artists Maps” by Eric Avery, Nick Barbee, Josh Bernstein, Will Henry, Colin Hunt, Katrina Moorhead, Robert Ruello, George Rush, Kamila Szczesna and Hilary Wilder flout all expectations of objectivity in map-making. The artists have taken great liberties. These are maps of memory, experience or sensation, moving off and through the gridded planes of cartographic projection. These maps serve as a crucial and powerful reminder of our limitations and the true complexity of the human experience of place.
MAPPING GALVESTON opens at the GAR Gallery on August 25th, 2012 with a reception from 6-9pm. The exhibition will be on view through November 3rd, 2012.
To view more images from MAPPING GALVESTON please visit our facebook page here.