From the beginning the places named in the maps didn’t represent anything I knew, had seen in films, nor read in books; no here or there, just names. The name and its sound and resonance.
Burning Beds – A Survey 1982-1994, 1994, p. 17.
Born in 1961 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he lives, Guillermo Kuitca is one of Latin America’s leading contemporary artists. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Kuitca began working on installations based on typographies, geographical maps and architectural plans. He also explored themes of public and private space, memory, and migration. His work has transcended geographical boundaries and has been exhibited extensively around the world.
Although Kuitca’s work is not overtly political, and he does not explicitly address the culture of his country, the alienated mood and institutional anonymity of his work communicate something of the turbulent, sometimes repressive, recent history of Argentina, where he lives and works. Kuitca himself describes his themes as more universal.
Le Sacre 1992
Moving Room Installation
This installation comprises 54 mattresses. On each bed Kuitca has painted geographic maps of randomly selected locations from around the world, punctuated by irregularly placed buttons that serve as markers for cities. Le Sacre has been included in several museum exhibitions where the beds have been shown in various configurations, almost always installed horizontally on the floor with their legs attached.
Speaking recently about Le Sacre, the artist has said that his map-on-mattress works represent a meeting point of private and public experiences. Individually they suggest childhood, and the intimacy and security of the bedroom, but together they take on a grimly institutional quality. The sense of ‘isolation’ Kuitca has spoken of is heightened by the placement of the maps over the mattresses. Despite this fragmentary nature of the cartography, the possibility remains that it represents a dream landscape that might connect the individual occupants of the beds.
The small beds, presented en masse, could suggest a frightening return of a traumatic childhood memory. The diminutive size of the beds contributes to this uncanny quality, for as Kuitca has commented, even when seen up close, the size of the mattresses can give the viewer the slightly disorienting impression of still being some distance from them.
Therefore Kuitca doesn’t mind which specific locations the maps represent. In fact, he chooses places that had no particular personal significance for him.
During the years Kuitca creates several canvases with fragmented maps. Since 2002 he creates collages inspired by the topography’s world. His works seems incomplete puzzles. Sometime Kuitca mixes abstract and compositional motifs of his own past series. Alongside his pictorial explorations of light and shadow, color and construction, and the transparency of planes, Kuitca incorporates elements of fragmented maps, architectural floor plans, and thorns. The result is a sort of explosion of chronology, in which all references almost cancel each other out.