an introduction to the “b/t*” exhibition, Boston, 2001 (first shown in Jacksonville, Florida, 1998)

I ask myself, are the artists in this “b/t*” exhibition of a certain generation? And I scan their biographies to find birth dates and places: Henry Brown (b. 1965, U.S.), Alison Cornyn (b. 1965, U.S.), Martin Dammann (b. 1965, Germany), Tirtza Even (b. 1963, Israel), Sue Johnson (b. 1969, U.S.), Bruce Ledbetter (b. 1966, U.S.), Mark Shepard (b. 1967, U.S.), Uri Tzaig (b. 1965, Israel), Alex Villar (b. 1962, Brazil), and Mary Ziegler (b. 1959, U.S.).

I realize that if I were to list myself, the entry would read Moira Roth (b. 1933, England), and this makes me muse on all that lies between the generations of those born in the 1930s and those born in the 1960s. My life has been so shaped by World War II and later the Vietnam War, together with the civil rights movement, feminism, and multiculturalism, and more recently, new technologies. What has shaped the lives of the ten "b/t*" artists?

I read on the CD accompanying the first installation of this exhibition (Jacksonville Museum of Contemporary Art, 1998) that the "b/t*" artists are "using varying media and technologies to explore intangible relationships."

To explore intangible relationships?

Or is it rather a yearning to learn how to live in the Land of the Inbetween?

To learn how to chart a series of invisible pathways in order to make (poetically, scientifically, metaphorically ...) not only more navigable but also more habitable (even, perhaps, more comfortable?) this new "inbetween" world of ours in which (for better or worse) many of us live these days—so that it becomes more than a mere passageway from an unknown point of departure to an unknown point of arrival.

In the "b/t*" Land of the Inbetween are strange sand-counting devices (Cornyn), silhouettes and shadows (Ledbetter), disconnected spaces (Even), unexpected appearances (Villar) and connections (Johnson), hidden mathematical principles (Brown), movements (Dammann) and traces (Shepard), and mysterious games (Tzaig and Ziegler).

I am reminded of Borges’ short text "The Garden of Forking Paths," which tells of Ts'ui Pen, who constructed a labyrinthine space "in which all men would be lost." Pen writes, "I leave to the several futures (not to all) my garden of forking paths," a phrase which in the story is explained to Pen’s grandson by Albert, a scholar, as meaning that “Unlike Newton and Schopenhauer, your ancestor did not believe in a uniform and absolute time … [but rather] in an infinite series of times, a growing, dizzying web of divergent, convergent, and parallel times."

In my mind's eye, I see the maps of the Land of the Inbetween and the Garden of Forking Paths superimposed on each other, their inhabitants stumbling back and forth between time and space, looking for places and moments in which to find respite, in which to reflect—as do the thoughtful and imaginative artists in this exhibition.

On March 21, 2001, partly inspired by my own image of a “Land of the Inbetween,” I began to write a series of texts revolving around a fictional library and its inhabitants.

These Library of Maps stories (which number thirty-nine as of October 2003) can be accessed on this Web site in two ways: either in sequence as they were written (see list below); or by clicking on the phrase “my mind’s eye” in the “b/t*” text of the Land of the Inbetween.

In the second navigational mode, you (the reader/viewer) will be led this way and that through the texts, including encountering “dead ends” on occasion, which will necessitate retracing your cyber footsteps.

Moira Roth
Berkeley, California
October 8, 2003


The Five Maps, #1

The Map of the Cosmic World, #2

The Lost Map, #3

The Child’s Map of Time, #4

The Map of the Heart, #5

The Village of Handmaps, #6

The Arpanet Map and Eratosthenes’ Geographica, #7

The Cartographer’s Last Map, #8

The Unruly Map of Threads, #9

The Bed of Maps, #10

The Two Street Maps, #11

The Maps of Walter Benjamin, #12

The Maps of Benjamin Banneker, #13

The Map of The Sandstorm Desert, #14

The City of Maps, #15

The Sound Pencil and the Transparent Scores, #16

The Mute Woman’s Songs, #17

The Song for the Blind Child, #18

The Mute Room, #19

The Star Dwellers and the Children, #20

The Birds, #21

The Maps of Death, #22

The Map of the Subterranean Passage, #23

The Sound Map of the Universe, #24

The Island of Tenderness or Ashes of Lanzarote, #25

The Courtyard of Letters to the Dead, #26

Sightings & Yearnings, #27

The World of Falling Stars, #28

Of Mirror Exchanges, #29

The Young Astronomer, Brahe, and Kepler, #30

The Young Librarian, Aristarchus of Samothrace, and Hypatia, #31

The Young Astronomer in Prague, #32

The Young Astronomer in Italy and the United States, #33

Of the Night Sky and the Night Garden, #34

The Children and Hiroshima, #35

The Map of the Sleepers, #36

The Map of Stones, #37

The Windows of the Library, #38

The Unfinished Mappa Mundi and Tiresias, #39

The Mirror Boat and Hiroshima, #40