Matthew Picton: CHRISTOPHER HENRY GALLERY
Hall, Emily, Artforum International
A map, reductive by definition, is full of ghosts. Matthew Picton engages these specters with paper sculptures that add a third dimension to the map and in various ways give form to imaginary cartographies of history. Indeed, he renders his maps four-dimensional by referring to the passage of time.
For his recent show at Christopher Henry, Picton presented a selection of these works. Some begin with a specific historical episode: A map of London comprises only the area of the city affected by the cholera outbreak of 1854. The map appears blank when looked at head-on, but from the side one sees red dots blooming here and there, marking buildings in which a fatality occurred, as if the city were a body riddled with disease. For a map of Lower Manhattan, headlines from the newspapers of September I 2, 201 1, among other items, are folded around each building, so that the words attack, tkrror, and bastards repeat here and there, like leitmotifs in the narrative that sprang up quickly in the aftermath of the disaster. Picton smoked the map with tapet candles, turning it gray, with the site of the World Trade Center charred black. Few people can look at a map of Lower Manhattan without mentally conjuring this sort of symbolic overlay; here it is made plain.
Other maps take as their starting point a general perception about a place, or a fantasy. Picton's map of I lollywood, Hollywood Crushed and Burnt, 20 10, is constructed from DVD covers for the sensational (974 disaster movie Earthquake and the 1994 nova documentary Killer Quake. …