Critics’ Picks

Kathy Prendergast, Atlas, 2016, 100 road atlases, ink, trestle tables, dimensions variable.


Kathy Prendergast

Kerlin Gallery
Anne's Lane, South Anne Street
October 29–December 10, 2016

Kathy Prendergast has long made a practice of maps. From her 1983 series of watercolors “Body Maps,” which conflated cartography with the female body, to her delicate “City Drawings,” 1992, which won her the Premio Duemila at the 1995 Venice Biennale, she has proven her observation that “all maps are subjective,” with fresh explorations that address naming, control, personal memory, borders, and exclusion.

For Atlas, 2016, Prendergast has laid out one hundred copies of the AA Road Atlas of Europe, each open to a different page, on as many trestle tables. By painstakingly blacking out all but the white dots signifying settlements, she imagines a Europe freed from territories, boundaries, frontiers, and networks of roads and rivers. Instead, each point glows, defiant in the darkness, yet also somehow lonely.

The outlines of Ireland are clear enough, spread across two sets of pages, but navigating around the tables—which are laid out in a rough schematic of the continent, and further into Central Europe—additional moments of darkness appear. Are these voids seas, lakes, national parks, or perhaps just inhospitable places? Presented as a single installation, this is a powerful work—cultural differences are leveled, while the tiny white dots reveal the tenacity of human endeavor. Our relative smallness among mountains and oceans is utterly laid bare.