press release

Geography benefits from the study of specific histories, sites, and memories. Every estuary, landfill, and cul-de-sac has a story to tell. The task of the geographer is to alert us to what is directly in front of us, while the task of the experimental geographer—an amalgam of scientist, artist, and explorer—is to do so in a manner that deploys aesthetics, ambiguity, poetry, and a dash of empiricism. Experimental Geography explores the distinctions between geographical study and artistic experience of the earth, as well as the juncture where the two realms collide, and possibly make a new field altogether.

The manifestations of “experimental geography” (a term coined by geographer Trevor Paglen in 2002) run the gamut of contemporary art practice today: sewn cloth cities that spill out of suitcases, bus tours through water treatment centers, performers climbing up the sides of buildings, and sound works capturing the buzz of electric waves on the power grid. In the hands of contemporary artists, the study of humanity’s engagement with the earth’s surface becomes a riddle best solved in experimental fashion. The exhibition presents a panoptic view of this new practice, through a wide range of mediums including sound and video installations, photography, sculpture, and experimental cartography.

The approaches used by the artists featured in Experimental Geography range from the poetic to the empirical. The more pragmatic techniques include those used by the Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) in projects made with students and other non-art groups that aim to strengthen peoples’ roles as agents of change in their own environments. See, for example, their map intended to help longshoremen and truckers identify chokepoints in the cargo trade network. In their similarly empirical projects, the Center for Land Use Interpretation (CLUI), a research organization, examines the nature and extent of human interaction with the earth’s surface. CLUI embraces a multidisciplinary approach that forces a reading of the American landscape (such as the disfiguring effects of culling natural resources from the picturesque banks of the Hudson River), thereby refamiliarizing viewers with the overlooked details of their everyday experience.

Experimental Geography is a traveling exhibition organized and circulated by iCI (Independent Curators International), New York. The exhibition, tour, and catalogue are made possible, in part, by the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, the iCI Advocates, the iCI Partners, Gerrit L. and Sydie Lansing, and Barbara and John Robinson.

Experimental Geography
Kuratoren: iCI (Independent Curators International) & Nato Thompson

Künstler: Francis Alÿs, AREA Chicago , Center for Land Use Interpretation , The Center for Urban Pedagogy (CUP) , kanarinka  (Catherine D´Ignazio), e-Xplo , Ilana Halperin, Lize Mogel, Multiplicity , Trevor Paglen, Raqs Media Collective, Ellen Rothenberg, Spurse , Deborah Stratman, Julia Meltzer & David Thorne, Daniel Tucker, The We Are Here Map Archive , Alex Villar, Yin Xiuzhen

21.02.10 - 30.05.10 Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville
09.10.09 - 31.01.10 Miller Gallery at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh
28.06.09 - 20.09.09 Albuquerque Museum of Art and History
07.02.09 - 18.04.09 Rochester Art Center
19.09.08 - 12.12.08 Richard E. Peeler Art Center, Greencastle