Thursday, November 3, 2011
The man shaking the maps could be seen as Van den Berg, who, through a series of the abstract paintings, presents deconstructed maps. In these paintings the lines have been pulled apart and haphazardly arranged to engender incoherent landscapes. Van den Berg is not just deconstructing an object but a visual vocabulary rooted in a pseudo-scientific paradigm. Deconstructing and “decomposing” (a word Rosalind Morris uses in the catalogue), however, don’t quite sufficiently describe what Van den Berg is attempting here, as both terms allude to a methodical act motivated by a desire to understand (and challenge) the mechanics of a construct.
Van den Berg isn’t striving towards understanding but the opposite; he wants to unknow what he knows – and by proxy what we know about the land. To achieve this he needs to jettison the tools of understanding and ordering it.
He subverts the function of the map; instead of guiding the reader/viewer around a territory, these incoherent paintings ensure that we cannot find our way. We are paralysed by the languages that are meant to order space. You could argue, of course, that this is precisely what occurs with maps: that they separate us from the land – the language of map-making becomes a more reliable marker of space than the space itself. Put another way: the land misleads us and maps tell the truth.