June 5–July 18, 2014

A Place of Which We Know No Certainty

A place of which we know no certainty is curated by Peta Rake, recipient of ISCP’s 2014 Curator Award, which offers the opportunity for a curator or curatorial collective to present a new group exhibition. This award was established in 2010 for participants in selected curatorial studies programs, as a response to the lack of opportunities for emerging curators to present institutional exhibitions in New York City. Participating artists include Laura Fitzgerald, Laura F. Gibellini, Alex Hartley, Jordan Loeppky-Kolesnik, Axel Töpfer.

A place of which we know no certainty includes works by Laura Fitzgerald, Laura F. Gibellini, Alex Hartley, Jordan Loeppky-Kolesnik and Axel Töpfer that destabilize the idea of ‘place’ through intangible and imagined locations. The projects presented connect real and elusive places, such as Sandy Island, New Caledonia, the most recent case of an alleged ‘trap street’ (a fictitious entry on a map to ensnare copyright violators); Hy-Brasil, a phantom island said to lie off the coast of Ireland; or ‘Nowhereisland’ the world’s newest nation with ‘citizenship open to all’. The exhibition is also accompanied by a display of artists’ books and ephemera that subtly dismantle the authority of maps as subjective documents in need of scrutiny.

Sandy Island, New Caledonia doesn’t exist. First charted off the east coast of Australia by James Cook in 1774, Sandy Island was found on maps as late as 2012 until a surveyor ship passed through the location where the island was deemed to exist; finding no trace. Quickly removed from Google and National Geographic maps it was noted as a human error and officially ‘undiscovered.’

While this case was assumed an accident, the practice of cartographic entrapment is commonplace, but largely denied by mapmakers. Formally called a “trap street,” the purpose of such is to ostensibly trap copyright violators, who, when caught red-handed could not explain the strange inclusion. Documented traps include fictional towns, phantom settlements, misrepresented streets, mountains with the wrong elevations, or counterfeit islands.

The industry of cartography, particularly during The Age of Exploration in the 15th century, assisted in the creation of global trade-roots, and consequently the trafficking of ideas and people. Today’s technologically advanced GPS mapping systems still use methods borrowed from these old documents, sometimes without question of their accuracy. Cartographic propaganda – in as much that maps are presented as miniature and subjective models of reality both politically and geographically – is a rare but documented occurrence where spatial knowledge can be deliberately distorted.

Recently, The Guardian Online published a crowd-sourcing article concerning the gaps on the Google Maps version of the African continent. Questioning Google’s assertion that ‘they are on the never-ending quest for the perfect map’, the Guardian noted that many omissions existed in the topology of the continent and asked readers to help re-build a post-colonial map of Africa. This gesture of open-engagement proffers a model whereby the public become ‘tourist-cartographers’ – akin to the unplanned dérive.

The existence of these phenomena on atlas’ or maps – recognized and trusted authorities – is an intriguing anomaly; also termed ‘paper-towns’, these instances dot literary history, including “Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertiu” in Borges Labyrinths (where the title of the exhibition has been borrowed from); Jules Verne’s trilogy The Mysterious Island; or the Dictionary of Imaginary Places by Manguel and Guadalupi.

These traps are a pervasive example of non-place (a pseudo-heterotopia); relevant in a moment where the movement of people because of geo-political unrest has created a genuine state of displacement. Ultimately, the subjectivity of the ‘trap street’ becomes a pervasive symbol for the fluidity of place and nationhood, the currency of authority, and the precarious way in which statehood and politics are considered vis-à-vis maps that are often besieged with inaccuracies and pitfalls themselves. A place of which we know no certainty expands upon statelessness, non-place, the possibility of the ‘unchartered’ in contemporary culture, and the apparent strangeness of our geopolitical boundaries by connecting these intangible locations.


Opening Reception: Jun 04, 2014, 6-8pm
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Offsite Project
May 28–May 29, 2014

Andrea Mastrovito: Kickstarting

Saint Joseph Patron Parish in collaboration with the International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP) is pleased to announce Kickstarting, a new public project in New York by artist Andrea Mastrovito.

Kickstarting is a project based on the interaction between sports and art. Using soccer balls and tempera in powder, Mastrovito together with one hundred children from Bushwick, Brooklyn will create a gigantic mural by kicking the soccer balls against the wall to inscribe marks, giving new life to the courtyard of Saint Joseph Patron Parish in Bushwick which, during the summer, will reopen as a playground.

The performance is open to the public and everyone is invited to participate.

Kickstarting represents a new step in Mastrovito’s work, which often unravels from the studio to public spaces in an open confrontation with audiences and communities. The large mural will represent all the dreams, desire and affections of the children who participated in a series of workshops Mastrovito held at the Saint Francis Cabrini School and at the Youth Center of the Parish this past March and April. Starting from children’s suggestions and drawings, Mastrovito has prepared life-sized stencils that will cover the walls of the courtyard during the performance. Once removed, they will unveil the final 300-foot long drawings, realized solely with the marks of the soccer balls on the walls. The frieze will become permanent for the forthcoming playground.

The artist would like to thank Saint Joseph Patron Parish for the opportunity to realize the project as well as the following sponsors: the International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP), Cornell University, Michilli Inc. and Il Gufo.

The artist also thanks The Drawing Center, New York; The Italian Institute of Culture, La Fondazione, New York; the National Endowment for the Arts; New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, and the New York City Council District 34.

Andrea Mastrovito is currently an artist-in-residence at the International Studio & Curatorial Program (ISCP). He was born in Bergamo in 1978 where he also received his MFA in 2001 from Accademia Carrara di Belle Arti. He won the New York Prize, awarded by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2007 and the Moroso Prize in 2012. He installed solo exhibitions in private galleries in Milan, Florence, Paris, Geneva, Brussels, and New York and his most recent public solo exhibitions include: At the End of the Line, GAMEC, Bergamo; La libertè guidant le peuple, Pavillon Blanc, Colomiers and Le Cinque Giornate, Museo del Novecento, Milan. His works have also been included in group exhibitions all across Europe and United States including: MAXXI National Museum of the 21st century and Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome; Museo di Arte Moderna e Contemporanea, Rovereto; Manchester Art Gallery, Manchester; B.P.S. 22, Charleroi; Museum of Contemporary Design and Applied Arts, Lausanne and the Museum of Art and Design, New York.

Saint Joseph Patron Parish
185 Suydam Street, Brooklyn, NY

May 27, 2014

Salon: Jenny Brockmann and Michaela Gleave

Jenny Brockmann will discuss her site-responsive project AIR which is currently on view at the German Consulate General, New York. The work takes up spatial and temporal perception and considers the ability of urban planning, architecture and works of art to alter perception. Part of a body of research concerned with how the brain interprets and constructs reality through the observation of space and time, the exhibition builds on several facets of this investigation to consider the role of natural cycles such as light and temperature in urban settings.

Michaela Gleave’s practice investigates the physicality of perception and the structures through which we construct our image of reality. Often temporal, her installations, performances and interventions question our relationship to time, space, and matter, examining the degree to which systems of knowledge and cultural frameworks shape our capacity to understand the universe. Gleave will discuss a selection of recent works that take astronomy and the space of the sky as their starting point, elaborating on the research behind these projects and the multi-faceted nature of their outcomes.

Participating Residents