Everything and More: Guillermo Kuitca, cartography and digging up the bones of life

When I got home from the new Guillermo Kuitca show at the Walker, I sat down at my desk, took out a piece of paper, and sketched the floor plan of our home. I had seen it before: the stairs, the small closets, the tiny room where I work. That room is an office now, but many years ago it was built as a kitchen in an upstairs apartment.

As I thought back to a painting I’d noticed in Kuitca’s show, though, the floor plan of our home looked a little different. The lines seemed to me now like the skeleton of something almost alive, and we were the meat on its bones. That painting, House Plan with Tear Drops, showed a simple floor plan like the one in front of me, only his had large tears falling out from the edges.

I know, the image sounds almost maudlin, but the painting is a dark and beautiful work…

Read the rest here.


China’s Long Road to Today (review)

Wang Quanyuan was 21 years old, tall, beautiful and full of party spirit when she and 86,000 other troops set out for the hinterlands of China. It was late in 1934, when Mao Zedong and other party leaders decided to retreat from Chiang Kai-shek’s forces, who had them nearly surrounded.

Surely that young woman or the 30 others who went with her did not know that they would be marching nearly 4,000 miles over some of the world’s harshest terrain, and that a year later they would have completed one of the defining events of the 20th century, now known as the “Long March.”

Read the rest here.

Ten Books for the Road

Most of us can’t travel all the time, and sometimes we find ourselves at home, yearning to explore. It’s the feeling of standing before the edge of possibility. It’s the feeling that our life has turned some corner we can’t grasp yet, and that we are going in a slightly different direction.

Fortunately, there are books we can turn to that capture those feelings of motion, disorientation and discovery. Here are works of fiction—both novels and short stories—to take you across the world.

God Lives in St. Petersburg: and Other Stories, by Tom Bissell

These spare yet vibrant stories almost perfectly capture the disorientation and recklessness of life overseas, as well as how it can change us. “Travel scraped him away to reveal not some dulled surface but bright new layers of personality,” Bissell says of one character.

The Sheltering Sky, by Paul Bowles

Bowles’ classic book may have been one of the first to capture the aimlessness of modern life, as his three protagonists travel through North Africa with no particular destination in mind. The book is a beautiful, haunting echo of travel today, with all its melancholy gifts.

Read the rest here.