Saddle stitch bound
4 color offset printing
9.5" x 12.5"
Limited edition 500 copies
People have been making maps of the stars for at least a few thousand years, probably much longer. (Some German guy thinks that a mammoth tusk from 30,000-or-so BC is carved with a picture of the constellation Orion.) Star charts have been around, in other words, since long before anyone knew where, exactly, the stars were--or what they were. Representations of the night sky are based on fragmentary, earth-bound knowledge. They were and are always partial: incomplete, and also biased. Humans have their own priorities--navigation and all that. The actual distances between those little points of light matter less than the arbitrary pictures invented to make sense of them.
A few thousand years of history brings its own sorts of distances, and ways those distances are elided. There's all this stuff still hanging around. Go to a museum and you can see it all at once, this accumulation of artifacts, flattened by artificial proximity. But the cultural world has constellations too: narratives and value systems to connect the dots, a whole technology of display to demonstrate importance. How else can people be expected to navigate?
Joseph Hart is an intrepid navigator of distances--aesthetic and astronomical. Sometimes obsessive, sometimes casual and a bit loopy, his paintings pay as much attention to the maps as to the territory. They look at what gets put on pedestals and how things are framed. Hart lives in New York, where there are lots of museums, but he grew up in a small town in New Hampshire, where there are dark nights, with lots of stars. His childhood bedroom was filled with trophies. That's important too, probably.