All our geographies

By Eleanor Paynter

In preparation for the March 1st VERSO / "This is the place", I pulled out maps collected on trips over the years, trying to jog my thinking.

The challenge of a regular street map is its portrayal of a city as a flat permanence. The typical map doesn't represent those streets as we know them; our experience of places is, of course, dynamic. How many layers does a place contain? How does it morph from the idea we have of it, to what we experience, to how we recall it later?

Certainly a place becomes a memory once we have been there. But some places are already memories upon our arrival.

Poggioreale, 2014

Poggioreale, 2014

When the Sicilian villages of Poggioreale and Gibellina were destroyed in an earthquake in 1968, Poggioreale was left as it was – buildings crumbling, trees eventually taking root in kitchens. Gibellina, instead, was torn down, its buildings replaced with concrete blocks designed by the artist Burri to demarcate the original city grid.

Gibellina, 2014

Gibellina, 2014

To enter such places as an outsider is to walk into the past, into someone else’s memory.

Another layer. Another kind of map.

We are, in part, composed of the places we have passed through – the rooms, neighborhoods, woods. We cannot help but let place define us and, in turn, shape the places in which we live.

But what about places we have only heard of? Places we could never reach? On March 1st, let's pull out those maps, too.

Tower  by Marianna Maruyama (2012)

Tower by Marianna Maruyama (2012)

VERSO / "This is the Place" is this Sunday, March 1 at 7pm in Amsterdam. Entrance is free. Join us. Complete details can be found here.