Sunday, March 18, 2007

Maps and mapping: Layla Curtis
I have a bit of a thing about maps; mainly it's that I don't trust them. At all. I don't just mean the footnote at the bottom left hand corner that says "NOT TO SCALE" that you only notice when you've been walking for hours towards a place that looked like it was just around the corner; or the sponsored tourist maps that show all nine Barcelona branches of El Corte Ingles out of all proportion with the surrounding area. No, these are easy deceits to unravel and little more than an inconvenience. The big lies are contained in those maps that purport to reveal truths, to be complete and unasailable in their authority; maps made for war and for capital. All maps lie - not because they want to but because they are our agents and we seek to lie through them.

At the same time, maps are a comfort to us; they show us where we are, where we might be and our relationship to others. They challenge us to explore making the opportunities for exploration seem available and accessible.

Layla Curtis has been working with maps for years. Her work challenges us to ask more of the maps that we think we know and to question the organisation of the information they contain. Her map piece United Kingdom, 1999 hangs in Tate Britain. Her more recent work has made use of global positioning technology during a visit to Antarctica and can be viewed at
Image credits: Layla Curtis, Hard Cash 2003 (detail 1)

1 comment:

Wendy said...

Hi Sara, just want to say how much I enjoy your blog, its full of funny little titbits, and is really nicely written. I'd never heard of this artist before but looking forward to looking more into her. The British Library currently have an exhibition on maps of London; I've been meaning to go for ages, I think its on until April. Looking forward to your next post, Wendy.