Week 20: Mapping the City

by wangtianchen

Mapping through discourse

This Wednesday we had a great experience to visit Somerset House in London in order to look an innovative exhibition of works by established and emerging artists from the street and graffiti art scenes, called ‘Mapping the City‘.


‘Mapping the city’ exhibition

The exhibition features works by over 50 internationally recognised artists such as Shepard Fairey, Swoon and Aryz, alongside rising stars from Australia to Argentina, Sweden to Spain and France to Finland. As I feel Graffiti and street artists have an intimate relationship with the cities that they use as a canvas. They understand and engage with the urban landscape in unique ways – through subjective surveying rather than objective ordinance. So ‘Mapping the City’ presented a series of cartographic representations of the artists’ chosen cities. Ranging from literal to highly abstract, each map will be an individual response to the way these artists experience and interpret the places that they know so well. [1]

Here, I am going to show you some exhibits which inspires me:


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Martin Tibabuzo (AR) Mi mundo / Meine Wele, 2013

Terrestrial globes are often considered the only truly accurate maps as they do not misrepresent distances as ‘flat’ map do. Martin Tibabuzo’s globe, however, runs contrary to this more scientific aim. After starting to lose his memory in the early 2000s, Tibabuzo was instructed  by medical advisors to undertake certain memory exercises, timelines and ‘mind maps’ which he soon turned into artistic projects. Following this, Mi Mundo was created completely from memory. Whilst the results are not always as expected, it is the world as Tibabuzo sees it from his minds-eyes, a globe of his lived existence.


Remed (FR) Reflet Dans La Main, Le Trait du Devin, 2014

Remed’s map may, at first, seem like nothing of the kind. However it is, as he says, a map of “what I felt and what I was thinking art the time I made it, describing my emotional rather than physical environment”. Whilst in the first iteration Remed began mapping through words and fine lines, by the second the image began to morph and change, and “instead of drawing the lines of the city, I drew those of a body. The canvas then became this man/woman being, the architecture changing into a body,  the too straight lines of a city vanishing and changing into the smoother lines of an organic body”.

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Sixe Paredes (ES) Barcelona, 2013

Paredes’ map of Barcelona is not only a prime example of his Futurismo Ancestral style, but a perfect exemplar of his use of what he terms ‘circuits’ within his work. Delineating many of Barcelona’s key streets and sites (such as the famous Av Diagonal and the Sagrade Familia cathedral), it also contains secret messages and numerical symbolism key to Sixe’s life, a vocabulary of symbols, numbers and shapes that for Sixe act as a personal style of cuneiform writing.

More exhibits:

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MOMO (US) Tag Manhattan, 2013


Malarko (UK) Living in London, 2014


[1] Somersethouse. (2015). Mapping the City. Retrieved February 16, 2015 from http://www.somersethouse.org.uk/visual-arts/mapping-the-city