Lucy Lippard will be talking tonight about landscape photography at the SVA Theatre on West 23rd St at 7 PM. I'm realizing now that I could have enriched my entries about maps and map-making in contemporary art (be it that of R. Justin Stewart, Elisabeth Munro Smith, Ben Joyce, etc.) in a big way if I'd included in my reviews of Stewart's or Smith's work a few lines from Lippard's book, Overlay: Contemporary Art and the History of Prehistory. New York: The New Press, 1983):
"The most ordinary map has an inherent formal beauty as a drawing and it satisfies a basic longing for order by offering a syntax, a language through which to appreciate, without depicting, landscape. It is a way of modernizing the whole notion of art about space.
Maps are graphic notations of remembered experience...The map, and map-derived art, is in itself fundamentally an overlay--simultaneously a place, a journey, and a mental concept; abstract and figurative; remote and intimate. Maps are like 'stills' of voyages, stasis laid on motion." (121-2)
I want to be just like Lippard when I grow up. For all that I was trying to say about maps (their being internally-coded and frequently difficult to describe, a peculiar condition for pictures or sculptures that are supposed to represent space, distance, and contiguity as faithfully as representational art), she really has a way of boiling down a difficult string of concepts cleverly and elegantly that I would have been better to try to emulate (or crib). If you have the means, I highly recommend hearing her speak. You won't regret it.