Image with irregular edges depicting a map of lower Manhattan and a full-body portrait of the artist to the right of the island, in the dress of a conquistador, with tall red boots and armor. In this self portrait, the figure also holds a spear, and three ships sail at her feet. Meanwhile, the streets and blocks of New York City are indicated in two shades of yellow, punctuated by photographs taken in the location corresponding to the place where they are represented on the map. The land is surrounded by a swirling ocean in two shades of blue. There is a multicolored compass rose in the lower left corner of the composition.
From the exhibtion Jane Hammond, Digital and Analog, February 1 - May 29, 2022
The Wonderfulness of Downtown, with its cartographic lines, compass rose, and abundance of symbols, was inspired by the contours and delineations of old maps. Upon closer inspection, however, these symbols and lines appear to have no bearing on navigation—they draw our eye across the image, yet defy easy interpretation.
Over the course of a single day, Hammond took the photographs used here with a disposable camera, their locations roughly corresponding to their placement on the map of Lower Manhattan. An image of the artist herself stands boldly against the vivid blue of the ocean. In her self-portrait, Hammond adopts the troubling image of the conquistador—Spanish invaders who colonized and exploited regions from the Americas and Oceania to Africa and Asia. Hammond was fascinated by the idea of “claiming the claimers,” visually inserting herself into the male-dominated field of cartography in what she recognized as a bold exercise in feminist empowerment.
art in art; urban; seas
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