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Mapping the Self


Vito Acconci, Stretch, 1969. Gelatin silver prints, chalkboard spray paint, chalk, and marker on foam core; 54 x 54 in. (137.2 x 137.2 cm). Collection of Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Gerald S. Elliott Collection, 1995.24. © 1969 Vito Acconci

Photo © MCA Chicago

Roodborst territorium/Sculptuur 1969, 1970

Photo © MCA Chicago


In this age of information, the map—an image long associated with information—has increasingly become a means of expression for artists to organize and disseminate information. Drawing primarily from the MCA's collection and extensive holdings of artists' books, Mapping the Self explores how artists use maps to understand and explain themselves and the world around them.

Presenting a variety of media, including photography, drawing, video, and sound, Mapping the Self is not an exhibition about maps. Rather, the exhibition investigates how artists use geographic or conceptual space for personal exploration, artistic expression, communication, and social change. Maps can communicate highly complex ideas such as identity, politics, and culture. As a medium, maps allow artists to address socioeconomic and geopolitical issues and filter ideas of space and time through personal, local, and global perspectives.

This exhibition is organized by Tricia Van Eck, Curatorial Coordinator and Curator of Artists’ Books.

Mapping the Self is part of the citywide Festival of Maps, that includes more than 25 cultural and scientific institutions. Coordinated by a committee of leading experts and collectors of historical maps, globes, and atlases, the Festival of Maps explores how societies discover, interpret, and record their physical, political, psychological, and virtual worlds through maps, globes, artifacts, and artworks from ancient to contemporary times.


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