Photo Essays

Famous Artists Asked to Draw a Map of the US from Memory

VAR-1 From Memory- Takahashi Hisachika version 2
Hisachika Takahashi illustrates the concept of his From Memory project (all images courtesy Sean Kelly gallery)

Jorge Luis Borges’ well-known short story “On Exactitude in Science” describes a faded Empire in which a Cartographer’s Guild had attained such fidelity in their trade that tattered maps were perfectly superimposed upon the mouldering ruin of the land itself. An exhibition opening September 13 at Sean Kelly gallery imagines the inverse, pairing memory and cartography to explore the abstractions produced when mental and physical space are entwined. The show, titled From Memory, presents a 1971–1972 project by Hisachika Takahashi in which the Japanese artist, then living in New York, asked 22 of his peers to draw the United States from memory.

That group included a number of significant participants, including Jasper Johns, Joseph Kosuth, Robert Rauschenberg, and Gordon Matta-Clark. Each respondent imbued their drawing with the kinks of their memory and the idiosyncrasies of their aesthetic expression, each map a depiction of physical territory as mediated by an indelible and highly personal process of knowing and remembering.

VAR-1 From Memory- Twombly Cy
Cy Twombly
VAR-1 From Memory- Rosenquist James recto
James Rosenquist (recto)
VAR-1 From Memory- Rockburne Dorothea
Dorothea Rockburne
VAR-1 From Memory- Rauschenberg Robert
Robert Rauschenberg
VAR-1 From Memory- Matta-Clark Gordon
Gordon Matta-Clark
VAR-1 From Memory- Bochner Mel edited
Mel Bochner
VAR-1 From Memory- Kosuth Joseph edited
Joseph Kosuth

From Memory is on view at Sean Kelly gallery (475 Tenth Avenue, Chelsea, Manhattan) from September 13 through October 19, with an opening reception on September 12 from 6–8pm.

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