Brooklyn Boro

New exhibit to juxtapose historic maps, map-themed art

BRIC’s and BHS’ ‘Mapping Brooklyn’ Opening In Feb.

January 30, 2015 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Artist Joyce Kozloff’s nine-foot diameter walk-in globe, painted with aerial maps of sites involved in U.S. military warfare, is part of the upcoming “Mapping Brooklyn” exhibition. Photo courtesy of BRIC
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“Mapping Brooklyn,” a new exhibition featuring contemporary art works that use mapping and cartography as themes alongside actual historic maps, is opening this month at BRIC and Brooklyn Historical Society (BHS). Curated by Elizabeth Ferrer, vice president of Contemporary Art at BRIC, and spanning the galleries at BRIC House and BHS, “Mapping Brooklyn” explores the myriad ways that maps can represent practical matters, such as wayfinding, property ownership, population shifts and war strategy, while also navigating the metaphorical, the psychological and the personal.

At both venues, historic maps and contemporary works will be in dialogue, suggesting common themes — the desire to explore, chart and analyze territory — and highlighting the innovative ways that contemporary artists use mapping, cartography and exploration, to reveal data, ideas and emotions.

The historic maps will be drawn from BHS’ collection, one of the richest collections of maps of Brooklyn in the world. Included are fire insurance maps, transportation maps, demographic maps and nautical charts, among others. A colorful pictorial road map to the 1939 New York World’s Fair, a commercial edition of a Red Scare-era map depicting enclaves of suspected radical activity and a detailed map of one of Brooklyn’s earliest botanic gardens, showing plots of exotic plants and fruits, are among the dozen or so maps and atlases on display.

BHS President Deborah Schwartz said the exhibition “not only allows us to share the wide range of historic maps in our collection, it also places these technical documents in a contemporary context to reveal their influence over universal ideas like the need to belong, the desire for representation and the constantly changing nature of the borough and the world around us.”

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Artworks will range widely in scale and medium, including painting, photography, drawing, sculpture, installations, interactive projects and appropriated and manipulated historic and contemporary documents. Many of the artists have conducted research into the BHS map collection and have selected the historic maps that will be shown alongside their work. Participating artists include Aaron Beebe, Daniel Bejar, Francisca Benitez, Gail Biederman, Justin Blinder, Christine Gedeon, Katarina Jerinic, Joyce Kozloff, Laura Kurgan, Peter Lapsley, Jennifer Maravillas, Simonetta Moro, Bundith Phunsombartlet, Jan Rothuizen, Patricia Smith, Nick Vaughan & Jake Margolin, and Sarah Williams.

Works include a monumentally scaled map of Brooklyn by Jennifer Maravillas, made from paper litter collected on epic walks through every block in the borough; a nine-foot diameter walk-in globe painted with aerial maps of sites involved in U.S. military warfare, by Joyce Kozloff; a special project by Amsterdam-based artist Jan Rothuizen, who will retrace the steps a 17th-century Dutch explorer laid years ago and document his modern-day journey with a series of drawings of people and places in contemporary Brooklyn; and digitized maps that study such phenomena as human emotions as tracked and mapped by Foursquare and created by data visualization designer and geographer Sarah Williams.

“Modern and contemporary artists have long turned to maps for inspiration,” said Ferrer. “In practical terms, maps provide information on navigating from point a to point b, but in metaphorical terms, they become the springboard for thinking about history, personal exploration, social and political issues and our place in the world.”

The exhibition will be on view at BRIC House from Feb. 26 to May 3 with an opening reception Feb. 25 from 7 to 9 p.m.

The exhibition will be on view at the Brooklyn Historic Society from Feb. 26 to Sept. 6.

BRIC Arts | Media House is located at 647 Fulton St. (at Rockwell Place) in Downtown Brooklyn. Gallery hours are Tuesdays and Thursdays 10 a.m. to 8 p .m.; and, on all other days, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The gallery is closed Monday. Admission is free.

BHS is located at 128 Pierrepont St. (at Clinton Street) in Brooklyn Heights. Museum hours are Wednesday to Sunday, 12 to 5 p.m. 


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