Mappamundi assembled artists who, over the past 40 years, have worked on maps and who have questioned cartographical representation in ways to better move or provoke us. Maps to read or to look at? Simple mirror or distortion of the world? Description, evocation, protest?
The four sections of Mappamundi are neither geographical nor chronological, nor even linked to the type of support material used in the works here included. Each section affords a different viewpoint, in turn semiological, sensitive, political and dreamlike:
1) Decoding: a system of symbols conceived to be decoded
It took centuries to place the North at the top of a map, impose the notion of scale, choose a reference meridian, represent the equator by a line... Here, the artists 'unpick', in a certain manner, the rules knit together by engineers, geographers and surveyors. Decomposed mappemondes, maps revealing hidden words underneath, deciphering typography or scale systems: all ways of examining these tacit codes, of livening them up or even disputing them.
2) Materializing: a sensitive reality made of bodies, sensations and matter
Several artists work on how to restore this sensual power to maps. Some work with objects that are fraught with meaning like mattresses or sheets, others oblige bodies to come together or to sit down side by side, yet others underline the importance of traces left by fingers indicating 'I was here'.
3) Protesting: a combat instrument, a counterweight to the establishment
Presents cartography as a weapon. Maps have belatedly become the tools of anti-establishment forces, used now by minorities, oppositions and the oppressed. In rendering the invisible visible, in refuting official versions, silence and censorship, cartography becomes counter-cartography, radical cartography, a weapon with which to heighten awareness, denounce or organize collective action.
4) Dreaming: escaping from the real, the force behind imagination and dreams
The artists presented in this section request us to forsake our habits, to forget the legend on the map to better penetrate the world of make-believe and its legends. We must lose ourselves in disturbing oceans or on improbable summits, rediscover a viewpoint on maps which is neither imperative nor indicative but truly conditional, like those children who start their game with 'let's pretend ...'
At the end of these sections, there is a documentary room which highlights the omnipresence of cartography in our daily lives.
'Far from expressing certainties, these maps draw our doubts, our struggles and our dreams.'