i'm away from home and a library this week so my next street naming post will come later. Right now: via an email tip from my good friend Maw Shein Win, I came to regret the fact that I won't be around the Bay Area in June and July for this fabulous show at the Hosfelt Gallery, featuring (Russell Crotty and) Lordy Rodriguez.
Here's some text on Rodriguez:
Lordy Rodriguez was born in the Philippines, raised in Louisiana and Texas, and currently lives in Los Angeles. For several years he has been working on a series of ink drawings that reinterpret the United States of America as delineated by geographic, civic and state boundaries. These handmade maps, drawn in fine Technicolor detail, represent his take on the ideal reconfiguration of our country.
Using the precise language of mapmaking, which is defined by borders, limits, and 'reality,' Rodriguez creates places that defy existing boundaries and rules. Washington State, for instance, is situated on the East rather than West Coast and is surrounded by Oklahoma, Maine, and Hollywood, which is itself a state. The playful aspects of these works, however, belie a deeper sense of displacement. Being of Chinese, Filipino, Spanish, and French descent, and having moved throughout his life, Rodriguez has never been able to claim any homeland as truly his own. Larger issues of 21st century navigation—of different cultures, the information super highway, the latest technology or software program—are brought to bear in the artist's invented worlds.
Eventually, Rodriguez intends to remap the entire United States, adding 5 new states of his own creation (Territory State—which includes parts of the Philippines, Samoa, and Puerto Rico; Disney World; Hollywood; The Internet and Monopoly), to bring the total to 55, the national speed limit at the start of the project. An apt metaphor for our car-centered culture, where urban planning revolves around the automobile, and navigation as we know it wouldn't exist without the highway.
That was two years ago. Here's one of the maps the text was talking about:
The new show is somewhat different:
Using the language of cartography, [Rodriguez] makes drawings that go beyond map-making into abstracted, imaginary terrain.
The Geological series is a new body of work that pushes the iconography of mapmaking further into abstraction. These works omit the text that is so crucial to cartography. Without text, the map loses its utility, and the void is filled by the viewer’s own biases and experiences.
In previous bodies of work, including the Abstracted series and the America series, symbols and colors typical of road maps—such as highways, urban sprawls, and park versus city land — contributed to a certain recognition and sense of familiarity. With the Geological series, all that remains is the landscape — magnified, fragmented, and devoid of context. Dislocation, a constant theme through his work, operates here on an even deeper level.
Rodriguez is only 30 years old. It's exciting to see an artist so young (and clearly cool enough to be caught in the snares of hipster conceptualism) already progressing steadily towards a meaningful, self-defined practice. Observe:
See, this is what we need artists for. (Not to mention curators. Can I just give a shout out here for a clearly and intelligently written project statement?) All of our late orgasming over the new GIS apps is about labeling the traditional maps: how to label them, how to tweak the way we use maps so that they don't just tell us place names or elevations, but community connections and locations of things. The contours remain the same. The lines mean the same thing each time, just with new overlays.
It takes an artist to recreate the map to reflect not geographical reality, but perception ... or wishful thinking. It takes an artist to remove the text and leave us with less meaning -- and greater beauty.
I wish I could see this show in the flesh. Maybe some other time. But you all in the Yay Area, getcher asses down to Hosfelt in San Francisco for the opening on Saturday, June 17, 3-5 pm. Do it for me.