8 - 29 August 2015
Opening Saturday 8 August at 14:00
Preview by appointment
Walkabout with the artist on Saturday 29 August at 11:00. All welcome
Marking Chloё Reid’s second solo exhibition, titled documents, at GALLERY AOP is the visual construct of the map and the artistic practice of map making. The map is certainly one of the most powerful forms of artistic and cultural visions of a territory. As a sign, the map is both iconic: mirroring the actual shape and contour of the land it depicts, and symbolic: employing a variety of conventional codes and symbols in indicate landmarks and features of the landscape. The map appears, at least superficially, to be a naturally denotative sign, showing clear correspondence with what it is a map of. But actually maps are highly constructed and partial in their portrayal of the real, depending on historically formulated conventions, many of which have become part of the lexicon of cartography, and are arbitrary in any case. The map has also been a tool denoting possession, ownership and delineating the boundaries between neighbouring states. Maps might be said to strive for increasingly exact representation of the terrain, but many contemporary artists flout exactly this aspect of map making.
There has always been art in cartography. Maps by definition are utilitarian, of course; they bear implicit promises of routes into and out of the unknown. Yet the language of maps as developed over time is a beautiful one, filled with artistic promise. Cartographers have long known that deploying artistic skills and techniques can enhance a map’s effect, and have to varying degrees used visual creativity to make their maps more compelling. Now the relationship between maps and art has swung around; artists are using maps to further their artistic purposes, finding a rich vein of concepts and imagery to mine.
Reid, for example, rips, shreds, slices, splices, carves and dissects maps, folding, pleating, tracing, and crumpling them to phenomenal new entities denoting far richer and much more complex terrains of mental, physical and socio-cultural spaces. ‘’Understanding space and a sense of place’’, says Stephen Spender, a sociologist, ‘’brings together philosophical concepts of production and dialectical change (Hegel, Marx and Nietzche) as well as the poetics of space, urbanization and consumption (Bataille, Benjamin and Bachelard) and the complex interconnectivity of space, identity and global political changes (Castells, Harvey and Latour).’’
‘’documents” is a series of works that decontextualize the highly developed language of maps, setting the stage for an imaginary leap towards a form of ‘original position’ from which to reinterpret this language.
The attempt to deconstruct any subject is contestable, let alone one as broad and complex as map-making. Hence the ‘imaginary leap’ that opens the way for the paring down of the overt and established meanings of the language, leaving only its structural grammar - the shape, mark and colour. In this way, I tentatively chart a way back to a fictional pre-language period or perhaps forward, to a fictional post-language period.
Maps stand as the medium in this endeavour, as the evidence of the absurdity inherent in our attempts to understand the relationship between the outside world and the self. The ‘documents’ of the exhibition are rendered, on practical terms, useless through processes of stripping down, layering and removing. What remains is a hypothesis for what might happen if we were left with the language of maps but knew nothing about the geographical, social and political worlds they describe.
‘’documents” provides a response to the bombardment of information and the structural directives that have become the contemporary quotidian.
Chloë Reid works primarily with and on paper in the mediums of etching, drawing, lithography and collage. documents is her second solo exhibition with GALLERY AOP, following Hats off! in 2013. She graduated from the Michaelis School of Fine Art in 2011 and is about to pursue a Masters in Fine Art at the Glasgow School of Art in September this year.