January 26 till March 08, 2013
Maps are a navigational means of orientation, though their translation of spatial vectors into visual signs also represents a certain view of the world. Cartography sketches an aerial landscape unknown to the human eye — an abstraction that suggests clarity in places of geographic uncertainty. Ultimately, despite (or perhaps because of) its to-scale translation and mathematical precision, maps have an imaginary character. Rather than represent the world as it exists, they expose the world’s construction by being constructions themselves.Daniel Maier-Reimer roams unknown, mostly uninhabited territories in urban and rural areas along cartographically fixed outlines of cities and landscapes. He documents the landscapes he crosses in only a few select photographs. However, rather than representing a clearly identifiable subject, the selected photographs show a laconic rendering of a diffuse locality that eludes any definition of a specific place. While cartography is a science of observation, recording and categorization, Maier-Reimer’s photographs renounce any claim to territorial identification, capturing only what was seen as a representation of the subjective experience of space and time.
The photographs taken during a walk along the Florence city limits also present a close-up view of a landscape: a place that could be everywhere and nowhere. Its representation of an area in the urban periphery falls far behind the experience of the journey, the route traveled and its duration, and yet it is precisely this non-place that is inseparably tied to the map as the marking of a specific location. It is the moment of recollection that preserves distances traveled.For his solo exhibition at Clages, Daniel Maier-Reimer invited American artist David Brooks to develop a visualization of this hike. Also moving along the dialectic of place and non-place, Brooks translates Maier-Reimer’s trek along the Florence city limits into a full-scale sculptural intervention. The sculptural intervention adopts the cartographical principle to reconsider its representative claims. The space within a space is manifested as a walk-in structure; it is only once we are inside that we notice its contours follow the same path as those marked on the map. It is, to a certain extent, a spatialized path that extends the geographical horizon into real space. It is only by walking around it that we can grasp, to some degree, the dimensions of this frame; it is only inside of it that we can decipher the path taken. The scale of this route follows the coordinates of the gallery space, while the mental picture of the place lies within the evocative power of Florence’s name.
Thus the sculptural manifestation in space becomes the vector of an absence. Still, Florence and its urban borders seep far into the white texture of the fabric. We are reminded of an illustration in Lewis Carrol’s ballad “The Hunting of the Snark,” and its depiction of a cartographical emptiness that shows the ocean as a white sheet. The terms pushed to the margins of the page — North, East, West, Equator, Torrid Zone, South Pole — promise orientation. And yet it is precisely the placelessness of this sea, the literal nothingness, which puts the experience of the ocean within reach. “Daniel Maier-Reimer, walk following the Florence city boundary line, presented by David Brooks” is also an experiential image of place and non-place, one that promises certainties only to destabilize them, denies us an overview, unsettles our sense of space and nevertheless gives a precise picture of how it would be to walk around a city in Tuscany.
Vanessa Joan Müller