"The map is not the territory," a phrase coined by Alfred Korzybski, is the lesser-known counterpart to Magritte's charming "This is not a pipe." Unlike "This is not a pipe"—an image that has been rendered safe by multiple reproductions and parodies, by now of little relevance unless you are an Art History major—the phrase "the map is not the territory" is charged with political and cultural meaning of the most subversive sort. This meaning inspires the upcoming exhibit at the Inside/Outside Gallery, Levantine Cultural Center, curated by Jennifer Heath and Dagmar Painter.
One land, divided by walls and nomenclature like "annexed," "territory," "Manifest Destiny," until it is in bloody fragments. One people, divided by one thing, and then another, until they can barely recognize their own kin. Like blown dandelion seeds, people venturing out from their homeland, only to find themselves always looking backwards, and wondering how to retrace their steps. Such are the images and anxieties at the heart of The Map is Not the Territory — Parallel Paths: Palestinian, Native American, Irish.
In 66 works by 39 artists, The Map Is Not the Territory looks at relationships and commonalities in Palestinian, Native American, and Irish experiences of invasion, occupation, and colonization—not as novelty or polemic, but as history and current events. Although many peoples worldwide have suffered long and often brutal intrusions, Palestinians, Native Americans, and the Irish have intersected for centuries in specific and often unusual ways. What are some of these intersections and how do contemporary artists examine and process them through their own lives and visions? Co-curated by Jennifer Heath and Dagmar Painter, The Map Is Not the Territory opened at The Jerusalem Fund Gallery Al-Quds in Washington, D.C.—the first stop for this five-year traveling art exhibition, 2013-2018. See a Washington Post  review of the show.