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The imaginary world of a mind explorer

Giorgio Guglielmino, Umberto Allemandi & C, Torino | 2007

Argentine artist Jorge Macchi certainly likes playing with maps. In his works we find imaginary maps of the Buenos Aires metro, road maps where all the buildings have been removed, cities made only of cemeteries. His large work "Lilliput" is an accidental map of the world. The artist cut out all the countries in the world, scattered them randomly on a big white sheet and stuck them into the precise place they fell. Many countries ended up upside down, thus being harder to spot. Others appear fallen casually as if they were leaves bobbing in a puddle. It is not the result of an uncoodinated break-up of continents but rather the result of an unexpected "big bang". But the randomness of the geographical distribution is balanced by the millimetric precision of the scale of distances between the various cities printed in the bottom left-hand corner. And the term millimetre is particularly apt, since the numbers indicate the precise number of millimeters that separate various cities on the map. But if, for example, the 882 millimetres on the scale of distances is what really divides Chicago from Kabul, then that would mean that what looks like a map is in reality not a map but a life-sized place. That is why the work is called "Lilliput" like the legendary island in Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels. Because it is not a world to scale, it is simply a very small world. This implies that only the limits of our sight and the extremely reduced dimensions of what now does not appear like a map but like a sort of aquarium, prevents us from distinguishing within each nation the inhabitants, cars, aeroplanes and indeed any form of life too microscopic to be seen with the naked eye. Peering closer at the glass protecting the work we cast a brief shadow over the surface, darkening four or five countries. Perhaps this gesture of ours is mistaken by the inhabitants of this miniature world for an enormous cloud or even an eclipse which darkens part of the earth's surface for a few seconds.