The Knowledge – Land of Wisdom and Land of Achievement

[inkjet print on paper, 2006-10, 1m x 1m, diptych]

For this piece, the artist involved Londoners to answer her own version of the Questionnaire de Proust.  A party game from the Belle Epoque, the Questionnaire de Proust gives great insight into the psyche of the respondents.

By methodically recording on two maps the replies from the questions related to important life lessons and greatest accomplishments, she categorised London beyond racial, religious, class, sexual, age and geographical expectations.  It was a polyvocal historical document of a sampled multicultural group and their life vision. She subverted the tradition of mapmaking by focusing on the experience of people rather than the landmarks.

The point of entry of the project was the Questionnaire. It acted in a Proustian sense, as a catalyst for the participants to remember the day they sent her their entry at the very moment they would face the maps in the gallery space, just like the taste of the madeleine triggered Proust on his journey “In Search of Lost Time”. The questions for ‘Land of Achievement’ and ‘Land of Wisdom’ were time-based, an inward celebration and an outward meditation. The additional part of the interview was there to make people aware of configuration of data that usually classify them, highlighting circumstances that might reveal somehow the filters of their answers. The identity of the participants remained anonymous, a decision to compel the contributors to be true to themselves at the source and to prevent the audience from making judgment based on gender, race and creed downstream. The borough were divided by postcode up to sector level [ie E2 7] and the ‘villages’ or quartiers appeared too, so within that area, there were clues for people to find their contribution, to see where they fitted in.

Another version of this piece was shown as “The Proustian Map of London”, a 6m x 4 m wallpaper installation, at the Royal Geographical Society between May and August 2010. A new version has been commissioned by the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden, to be seen from 18th May until 28 October 2012.