Starting February 26, a special project by Amsterdam-based artist Jan Rothuizen will be featured in the Mapping Brooklyn exhibtion. Rothuizen’s work will retrace the steps a 17th-century Dutch explorer laid years ago and document his modern-day journey with a series of drawings of people and places in contemporary Brooklyn. The exhibition runs from February 26 to May 3 at the BRIC House gallery.
BRIC and Brooklyn Historical Society (BHS) co-present Mapping Brooklyn, a new exhibition featuring contemporary art works that use mapping and cartography as themes alongside actual historic maps.
Mapping Brooklyn explores the myriad ways that maps can represent practical matters such as wayfinding, property ownership, population shifts and war strategy, while also navigating the metaphorical, the psychological and the personal. At both venues, historic maps and contemporary works will be in dialogue, suggesting common themes—the desire to explore, chart, and analyze territory—and highlighting the innovative ways that contemporary artists use mapping, cartography and exploration, to reveal data, ideas and emotions.
The historic maps will be drawn from BHS’s collection, one of the richest collections of maps of Brooklyn in the world. Included are fire insurance maps, transportation maps, demographic maps and nautical charts, among others. A colorful pictorial road map to the 1939 New York World’s Fair, a commercial edition of a Red Scare-era map depicting enclaves of suspected radical activity, and a detailed map of one of Brooklyn’s earliest botanic gardens, showing plots of exotic plants and fruits, are among the dozen or so maps and atlases on display.
Visual artist Jan Rothuizen (1968) is mapping reality in a way that is difficult to define. He draws and describes his surroundings: always personal but never fictional. Sometimes descriptive but more often documentary.
With his hand-drawn plans he presents his stories in a way that fits surprisingly well with how we process information in the digital age: non-lineair and layered. His drawings are both an image and a story; the viewer is free to interpret them in their own way. Even as it is pen on paper, his drawings are a direct result of the information age.
Rothuizen also combines old and new media in the production of his work. He investigates by going out, walking around – visiting places physically. But he also visits Google Earth and online forums to study all information layers of those places.
He visits cities, neighbourhoods, squares and houses, and he notes what he sees, thinks, and feels. Those places vary from IKEA showrooms to the red light district and from the bedroom of a soldier that died in Afghanistan to a detention center for illegal immigrants at Schiphol Airport or even the secret annex of Anne Frank.