THE LAND OF THE INBETWEEN AND THE LIBRARY OF MAPS SERIES, 2001–2003
1. THE LAND OF THE INBETWEEN, MARCH 19, 2001
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.
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.