firstsite@the minories, Colchester

12 March 2005 - 23 April 2005

UECLAA: Redefining Maps and Locations marked the launch of the Collection's online catalogue. This exhibition explored ideas of global and local, maps, spaces and places, and the ways in which these can be endlessly redefined.

In his Southern School manifesto, Uruguayan artist Joaquín Torres-García developed a ‘southcentric’ ideology of art that has influenced the development of art discourses in Latin America to this day. He condensed his idea in a drawing of the map of South America upside down. His intention was to de-contextualise the idea of a Eurocentric progression of the avant-garde and to highlight that the local is ultimately rooted in universal paradigms and archetypes. These local parameters nurture that universality with particular features: the multiple miscegenations or mestizajes which constitute Latin American artistic languages.

With this selection from its holdings, UECLAA explores the way in which globalisation stimulates continuous redefinitions of our sense of place. The multi-media cartographies presented here bring echoes of concepts such as the de-nationalisation of the modern and the uncertain nature of nationalism in a reality woven by mediated relations and multiple migrations. At the centre of the room, Jorge Macchi's artist's book Buenos Aires Tour, provides a starting point, a journey through a city from numerous different perspectives, but always with an eye to the extraordinariness of the ordinary, paradigmatic of this artist's practice.

León Ferrari also looks down on the world from above but his spaces are architectural ground plans filled with figures and furniture in nightmarishly close quarters that seem to be mocking the madness behind the idea of ‘social order’. Mónica Bengoa's photographs present details of human skin as if they were maps. Cristina Pape’s maps highlight the perverse relevance of gold in the definition and mapping of the new territories at the time of the conquest of Brazil. At another level Jaime Gili, a Venezuelan artist resident in London, uses the very British fashion for customised number plates to construct words in Spanish.

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