Maps are often deceptive, disguising more than meets the eye and manipulated for socio-political purposes. Couturier Gallery is pleased to present World Maps, a group exhibition including the work of four artists well known for their cartographic works: Kim Abeles, Irene Dubrovsky, Joyce Kozloff and Ibrahim Miranda. The maps of these artists reveal truths frequently obfuscated in mapping history. This mixed-media show will open June 12th (and continue through July 17th ). The opening artists’ reception will take place Saturday, June 12th, 6-8pm.
The works in the show examine social and political histories, issues of location and dislocation, identities, as well as chronicling historical and contemporary issues. Kim Abeles, one of Los Angeles’s preeminent conceptual artists, has worked for the past two decades documenting the urban experience. Looking for Paradise, (from her Signs of Life series) pinpoints categories of life forms in downtown Los Angeles in the form of trees. Using a detailed aerial photograph, each piece identifies trees or structures built as homes for the nomadic homeless. Abeles urges one to ”look carefully at the city blocks with no signs of life, peculiar with their concrete landscaping. The edge of the cement world is as we remember it, and as we see it through a corrective lens.” Also included in this show is “Smog Map” a new work from her Smog Collector series, an image of the world’s continents “drawn” with particulate matter (smog) collected on clear acrylic surface. “Smog Collectors are both literal and metaphoric depictions of the current conditions of our life source. They are reminders of our industrial decisions: the road we took that seemed so modern.” Abeles’s work may be found many museum collections including the California African American Museum, Los Angeles; California Science Center, Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; and the Museum of Modern Art Library Collection, NYC.
The woven maps of Irene Dubrovsky (born in Argentina, resides in Mexico City) result in a tension between a sedentary handicraft and the sophistication of modern technology. Dubrovsky works from images of the globe circulated by Google Earth on the net and translates them into three-dimensional paper weavings polychromed with a mixed media. The relief surfaces she creates in the weaving process restores to the globe textures it lacks on the computer monitor while at the same time translating the satellite images to a pictorial level, or “artistic surface,” that can be explored through touch. When viewed from a distance, the weft and woof of the woven paper create line patterns suggesting longitude and latitude lines of maps. The merging of the hand-created world maps with the technologically precise satellite photos from which the images were taken brings the world down to earth. Dubrovsky extensively throughout Latin American and most recently participated in the Biennials of Cuenca and Havana. This is her first exhibition in the United States.
Pioneering feminist artist Joyce Kozloff (based in New York City) is most concerned with issues such as history of Western ethnocentrism, the meaning of public space and the artificial separation of the fine and applied arts. Kozloff is fascinated with the map as metaphor and her interests include the psychology of domination, the seductions of power and the fallacies of the patriarchal and Western-centric vision of history. Her maps, be they in the form of globes, masks or banners gloriously painted, drawn, and/or collaged are elegant commentary on very current issues including national illusions of grandeur in various periods of world history, American global dominance, and distorted views of the world in general. Kozloff’s Knowledge series, world globes covered with layers of plaster, are painted with watercolor and based on “cartographic pieces dating from first century Rome to early 17th c. Europe and encompass the Western world’s key eras of global exploration and conquest. They reflect the dominant thinking and assumptions of the rest of the world.” Her mask series, based on the Venetian Carnival, are painted with maps of islands taken from maps down through history which here take on the feel of tattoo or body art. Kozloff’s work has been widely published and may be found in numerous museum collections including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
The long maps of Ibrahim Miranda (born and lives in Havana, Cuba) display disproportionate extensions of images beyond what is routinely depicted in maps. Each of these maps are constructed from pre-printed geographic maps of Cuba taken from old atlases and then painted, and/or printed with lithography, silk-screened or woodblocks. Miranda superimposes depictions of the myths, religions, customs and cultures completely neglected in the technical and scientific geographic maps. His inspiration comes from the poetry and myths familiar to him and without irony, sarcasm or cynicism proposes alternate models for the morphology of the island. By sometimes obscuring the shape of the island, Miranda unwittingly suggests the primary function of maps- their precision and exactitude or “correctness,” – is not sufficient to identify any one place in the world and by superimposing images of world historical reference he begins to reveal the more private, unacknowledged locale. Public collections where Miranda’s work may be found include Casa de las Américas, La Habana, Cuba; Centro Wifredo Lam, La Habana, Cuba; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, La Habana, Cuba; National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.; Peter Norton Collection. Santa Mónica, Los Angeles; Thyssen – Bornemisza Contemporary Art Foundation, Austria.
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