The map, Alfred Korzybski tells us, is not the same thing as the territory that it represents. Drawing its title from this adage, this exhibition comprises maps of both the sea and the night sky–a collection of blank maps of the English Channel, and an archive of constellations that the International Astronomical Association excised in the creation of its official star chart the in the 1920s. Considered together, these objects raise questions about the systems by which we measure and represent space.

We tend to think of maps as objective documents, but they are historically contingent and culturally specific. In order to render a terrain visually intelligible and navigable, cartography radically simplifies and codifies space; a map is an abstraction that erases as much as it represents. What is gained and lost in these erasures? What terrains, lifeways and knowledge-systems disappear in these expedient consolidations? Both the erasure of constellations and the coordinates of these empty oceanic maps arise from European systems of organizing space and the visual field–systems that are entangled with Europe’s colonial expansion and now form the basis of internationally agreed-upon standards.

Sara Morawetz’s practice explores the processes that underpin scientific action. She is interested in how concepts of the ‘Scientific Method’ (namely observation, experimentation and standardization) have come to operate as both scientific and cultural apparatus that shape the way we see the world around us. Her work explores the exhaustive, the obsessive, the poetic and the absurd inherent within scientific activity. Her recent projects have involved collaborations with scientists from a range of scientific institutions including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (USA). Her work has been exhibited internationally, including exhibitions at the Museé des Arts et Métiers (France), Australian Consulate-General New York, RAPID PULSE International Performing Arts Festival (Chicago, USA), Open Source Gallery (NYC, USA) and Dominik Mersch Gallery (NSW, Australia), and was recently included in recent survey publication by Phaidon Press entitled Prime: Arts Next Generation that catalogues “100 of the most innovative and interesting contemporary artist…as chosen by the future leaders of the art world.”

Curated by Macushla Robinson, Director of the Contemporary Art Galleries

Read the exhibition essay here.