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Standing between the conceptual and whimsical, Emily Garfield’s mixed media-maps place us within our own bewonderment before contemporary space. Here we are not lost, but neither do we quite know where we are going; we are map readers without a compass, travelers in a web purportedly predictable, but actually suffused with rhythms and heats that are essentially unplottable. To navigate these spaces we need fictions—guiding maps that we read in the same sense as an unfolding novel, for no map truly plots the simultaneous existence of the four dimensions of embodied reality.

What does it mean to dwell here, where real space meets the schematic and the designed? Lyrical, playful, and thought provoking, Imaginary Cartography suggests that maps take many forms, from the organic, biomorphic, and self-evolving, to the precarious patchwork of knowledge that we cut from life’s cloth: multi-textured, discontinuous, ragged at the edges. Perhaps the ideal map is not a virtual whole, but a garment of our own making that both shelters and adorns. The answers, it seems, come from without—from that absence which a map both envelopes and is spurred by, just as an amoeba is formed and deformed by the objects it digests.


A free exhibition, Imaginary Cartography runs at Endless Life Brewing at 585 Franklin Ave., from March 4-27.

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