"They give us a frame of reference, but what I want to lead the viewer to is what else lies outside of the frame and the frame is just to get us to that point."
Maps have been at the center of cultural and political exchange between Asia and the West for centuries, supplying an orientation to unfamiliar environments, an ability to communicate about foreign lands to a domestic audience, and in some instances a taxonomy that gave mapmakers a sense of control and order. Maps continue to define and help navigate diverse geographies, both in analog and digital modes.
New Cartographies delves into the unique ways that contemporary artists such as Tiffany Chung, Allan deSouza, Li Songsong, and Sohei Nishino are incorporating cartography into their practices as they look at globally relevant topics such as urbanization, economic migration, environmental change, refugee movements, and the repercussions of colonial legacies.
deSouza's series of works Through the Black Country features maps, photographs, and writings by explorer Hafeed Sidi Mubarak Mumbai as he travels through 21st century England searching for the source of the Thames. The inversion of references to texts such as Henry Morton Stanley's Through the Dark Continent: Or, The Sources of the Nile: Around the Great Lakes of Equatorial Africa and Down the Livingstone River to the Atlantic Ocean recasts past colonial narratives in a prism of contemporary issues.
Hafeed Sidi Mubarak Mumbai is a fictional great grandson of the actual Sidi Mubarak Bombay, a guide who led numerous British on treks through East Africa in the 19th century. Bombay's personal history of enslavement and emancipation involved time spent in India before eventually returning to Africa and guiding men such as Stanley. Bombay's and Mumbai's trajectories echo deSouza's family's own history of migration from India to Kenya, and the United Kingdom. His work, through the created narrator, uses transposition and satire to draw attention to rising tides of isolationism and xenophobia in the contemporary era.
Allan deSouza (b. 1958, Nairobi, Kenya; lives and works in the Bay Area) is an artist whose photography, installation, performances, and texts, as he says, "restage historical evidence through counter-strategies of fiction, erasure, and (mis)translation." His recent works engage with the colonial history of the later 19th century, and connections between South Asia, East Africa, the United States, and the United Kingdom.