Mapping the City: A Stranger's Guide


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Mapping the City: A Strangers Guide

A city map is more than just a tool for getting around, a snapshot of the grid of streets or the curves of rivers. It projects varying and often competing ideas about a place: what it means, what it is like, sometimes even what and where it is. Viewers and map makers alike are strangers to one another’s interpretations, and both can be strangers to the many other possible definitions of urban space.

This exhibition of maps from the Rubenstein Library invites spectators to explore these various representations of cities of the past while also formulating their own interpretations of the places presented.

Mapping Cities

The city is not a modern invention. Yet it has come to internalize, express, and represent the very core of modern life: technology, commerce, politics, and social interactions amongst persons, groups, and even civilizations. Most people might see maps of such places as simply directional tools, and in fact, many maps do have practical purposes; they are often guides for strangers, from tourists to developers. But they also answer many more questions than simply “how does one get there?”

Maps silence as much as they reveal. They are beautiful and compelling. They are arguments and propositions. They can show the fingerprints of national power or the anxieties of international rivalry.  They can be read as historical texts.  They can represent something more than just a place. They can be treated as works of art.  They can raise questions of what makes a map accurate and even what makes a map a map in the first place.

In this exhibit you will see cities mapped in varied and perhaps unfamiliar ways that will challenge your perceptions of what a map is supposed to be.

This exhibition was sponsored in part by the the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation.

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