Artists Space

A New World Order II:
Remapping Tales of Desire

October 17 – November 21, 1992

Artists Space is pleased to present Karen Atkinson & Associates' contribution to A New World Order. A New World Order is a series of three presentations, begun last season at Artists Space with RepoHistory's installation Choice Histories: Framing Abortion, which emphasized cultural activism and empowerment through collaboration.

A fractured image of a person hung on a white wall next to a tall stack of suitcases painted gold.
A New World Order II: Remapping Tales of Desire. Installation view, Artists Space, 1992. [A fractured image of a person hung on a white wall next to a tall stack of suitcases painted gold.]

For part II of this trilogy, Karen Atkinson travelled from California to create Remapping Tales of Desire, a photographic installation which utilizes a travel agency tableau to explore how descriptions and depictions of women's bodies, from the male point of view, are used in the language of discovery and travel. This symbolic use of women's bodies in relation to travel can be found in historical writings such as those of Cristobal Colon, whose quincentenary "discovery" of the New World is being acknowledged (by some) this year. These historical writings, as well as examples of current travel advertising, such as the ubiquitous bathing-beauty-in-tropical-seas-settings, are the springboard for Karen Atkinson and Associates' installation.
In writing about this installation, Ms. Atkinson so describes the piece:
''It moves to the 17th century, where a young woman has drawn a map for a potential suitor of how to get from 'New Amity to Tender', in other words, from friendship to love. It then proceeds to take a journey across the abyss of confined history to redefine pleasure, where sexuality, sensuality, giving, taking and promising become acts of insinuation that will not be suspended in exploitative gazes. It ends with a proposal to reconfigure our recourse to different maps, a place for both men and women to refuse boundaries and reinscribe desire. "

Remapping Tales of Desire challenges the viewer to question his/her tacit acceptance of old tales of travel and adventure, which more often than not, include a colonizing impulse, as well as the modern fantasy of travelling to a "paradise." This travel agency will take you to a destination you won't expect.