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'The Conquest of Space': On the Prevalence of Maps in Contemporary Art (No. 35)


During recent years the number and variety of works by contemporary artists based on maps has been remarkable, with works dealing with political and geographical instability, memory, and fictitious utopias, among a plethora of other concerns.

This essay examines why maps and mapping stimulate such a range of responses from artists, and asks what has led to such a widespread prevalence of maps in contemporary art?

Deborah Schultz travels through the theoretical terrain that underlies the conceptual qualities of the map, from Michel Foucault, to Giles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, before reaching the artistic and poetic regions of Marchel Broodthaers, whose re-emergence in the 1980s seems to exemplify the shifts in thought and in art that this essay examines and that have resulted in the current interest in maps.

This essay is the result of Deborah Schultz's Research Fellowship at the Henry Moore Institute in 1999-2000.

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