Everyone wants to find their own place in the world. But where is it and what is it? How do we recognize place as being significant and not just merely space? And what is it that makes one place special and another not? These are questions that have taxed philosophers as far back as ancient Greece. But they are also much more than philosophical investigations. In a world where neighbours fight over a stretch of land, or where some groups can feel safe only in certain locations, place is a living reality that can either be the cause for violent conflict or the glue that binds communities together.
This exhibition in a book presents some of the most challenging art to address the function of place in the contemporary world. Arranged into themed ‘rooms’, it reflects a wide variety of artistic attitudes and practices.
Some artists find inspiration in the heterogeneity of the crowded city street, while others celebrate the wilds of nature as a counter to urban life. Some present imagined or fantastic worlds of their own invention, or explore the way place is often a creation of the mind. Others investigate the deep marks that myth and history can leave on the land, or consider how place can be used as a form of political control. Territorial divisions demarcating one place from another, often with terrible consequences, are the chosen subject-matter of many artists; others prefer to look at itinerant wanderers with no claims on the earth, or to focus on anonymous non-places that lack any real identity of their own.
All of the artists in this book use art to puzzle out the complicated ways in which place can shape and affect us. All of them help us understand the world in which we live.