The Factory cordially invites you to participate in a public program as part of the exhibition ‘Necessary Fictions’ with architect Nguyễn Anh Cường, where you’ll learn more about the concept of “maps” through literary and theoretical excerpts and works selected and shared by the architect.
Jorge Luis Borges once told a story about the Cartographers of an Empire. They proposed a Map that could cover the entire Empire. Extremely detailed and complete, the giant Map, whose size was that of the Empire, had a 1:1 scale and coincided point for point with it. After its creation, the citizens of the Empire realized its uselessness and thus decided to abandon it. Somewhere in the Deserts of the West, there are still several tattered fragments that once belonged to that map of the Cartographers.
The map has long been a phantasmagoric object haunting the reveries of geography aficionados, who dream of becoming absorbed into the map, having their bodies move in the map, going deep and exploring it from within. In Borges’s story, the phantasm of the map turns extreme as it embodies a desire to embrace the entirety of reality. Once the necessary knowledge required to delineate a space is available, the map is either destroyed or itself becomes a new territory and substitutes for physical space. Here, the ability to abstract and visualize territorial subjects, and the incompatible ontologies between abstraction and particularity, are the reason why the concept of the map exists. The modality of the map is the modality of visuality and reason, whereas the modality of the territory is naturally enigmatic. In Houellebecq’s novel “The Map and the Territory,” the character Jed Martin named the exhibition that launched his prominent artistic career with the extreme title, “The map is more interesting than the territory.” Jed took a photo of a Michelin map at thirty degrees from the horizontal, adopting “the point of view of a God co-participating, alongside man, in the (re)construction of the world.” Placed next to the monotonous and closed satellite image, the picture of the map “developed a fascinating maze of departmental and scenic roads, viewpoints, forests, lakes.” To Jed Martin, the Michelin map has become a new territory of discovery, with its own materials, symbols, codes.
To illustrate the territory, the map deploys a distinguished system of codes, an abstract type of language. Interweaving textual and visual symbols, the map creates a mathematical point of view from the outside. From that revelatory position of observation, the map conceptualizes spatial territory and opens up the geographic logic of the territory. As a sensorial object that carries mathematical and textual rules, the map not only demonstrates but shapes our imagination about the world. It condenses the creator’s temporal worldview and harbors discourses on knowledge and power. Nevertheless, the object of the map itself remains a sensorial, non-linear image. The historical distance between it and the reader invites exploration and generates phantasmagorias. Let’s think of the phantasmagoria, or the utopia, of the map the way Oscar Wilde put it, “A map of the world that does not include Utopia is not worth even glancing at, for it leaves out the one country at which Humanity is always landing.”
Nguyễn Anh Cường is architect-engineer. After studying and practicing in France from 2003-2017, in 2018 he founded Nhabe Scholae Office in Ho Chi Minh City where he currently practices architecture.
➖Adult: 100,000VND (online); 130,000VND (at door)
➖Student (with appropriate ID): 40,000VND
*Participants of the event allow The Factory and co-organizer (if applicable) to use their images and statements as documentary for the program, for non-commercial purposes such as: archive, press, media, promotion on our website, Facebook etc