Nina Katchadourian’s “Finland’s Unnamed Islands”

 In MOA Features

Nina Katchadourian, “Finland’s Unnamed Islands (detail), 2000/2017, 96 paper map fragments between glass microscope slides on aluminum shelves, Collection of Nick Debs, Eastham, MA., Courtesy of the artist and Catharine Clark Gallery, San Francisco.


“I’ve spent a lot of time around maps. An enormous world map, about eight feet wide and six feet tall, hand pride of place in my childhood home. Finland has tens of thousands of islands scattered along its southern coast and stretching west toward Sweden, and tens of thousands of lakes in its interior. As a child, I imaged that each of Finland’s islands might fit perfectly into one of its lakes.

It doesn’t work out that way. There are more lakes than islands, and the two aren’t on the same scale. When you look at a map of the whole country, many islands become so small that there isn’t room for the names, so they appear merely as specks and blobs, like cartographic bacteria. I spent a few weeks with a Finnish atlas and an X-ACTO blade, investigating every page to extract unnamed islands. I placed them between glass microscope slides, arranged in a long line so that they could be read like frames of a film that showed the islands stretching, expanding, and contracting—living forms that could be studied as if under a microscope.”

– Artist Nina Katchadourian

Nina Katchadourian: Curiouser is on display at the BYU Museum of Art through August 11, 2018.

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