10 February – 4 April, 2021
...In that Empire, the Art of Cartography attained such Perfection that the map of a single Province occupied the entirety of a City, and the map of the Empire, the entirety of a Province. In time, those Unconscionable Maps no longer satisfied, and the Cartographers Guilds struck a Map of the Empire whose size was that of the Empire, and which coincided point for point with it. The following Generations, who were not so fond of the Study of Cartography as their Forbearers had been, saw that that vast Map was Useless, and not without some Pitilessness was it, that they delivered it up to the Inclemencies of Sun and Winters. In the Deserts of the West, still today, there are Tattered Ruins of that Map, inhabited by Animals and Beggars; in all the Land there is no other Relic of the Disciplines of Geography. –Suárez Miranda, Viajes de varones prudentes, Libro IV, Cap. XLV, Lérida, 1658.
10 February - 4 April, 2021
Spencer Brownstone Gallery is pleased to announce our inaugural solo exhibition with Brooklyn-based artist Mira Dayal. The title of this exhibition is the entirety of Jorge Luis Borges’s short story “On Exactitude in Science,” first published in 1946 and fictionally attributed to a “Suárez Miranda.” The story and its deployment introduce the works’ formal play with scale, control, materiality, and simulation as well as their larger concern with the ethics of representation and the evolution of Cartography.
The entire gallery floor has been laboriously rubbed by hand in graphite. The resulting 1:1 Map of the space’s topography is all lines and no borders. As in Borges’s story, this Map is drawn with absolute precision (yet its resolution is only marginally higher than that of drone and satellite imagery) and is rendered on the very ground it describes, making it completely comprehensive and utterly Useless for the purpose of navigating or controlling the terrain. The extremes of its creation turn against its function.
Above the floor, twelve fans are positioned to blow from the directions of the Twelve Winds, an ancient precedent for the compass rose. Allegorized as air-blowing heads on maps, the Winds were named and sometimes represented in accordance with the cartographer’s language, location, and beliefs about the lands from which they blew. Thus, as the mapmaker attempted to capture the ever-shifting, oft-destructive Inclemencies, the Winds captured the geographic and social orientation of the world-shaping mapmaker.
Within art history and still today, the wind is spoken of as a portentous agent of change or progress. Here, the fans in the gallery are not a closed system; they are controlled by a weathervane in the gallery’s courtyard such that they replicate the actual Winds surrounding the space, blurring exterior and interior—and welcoming a force of destruction into the Map.
Mira Dayal is an artist, editor, writer, and curator based in New York. She is a co-organizer of the residency program rehearsal, co-curator of the collaborative artist publication prompt:, founding editor of the Journal of Art Criticism, and a regular contributor at Artforum. Her studio work often involves laborious play with language, material, and site, and has been shown at STNDRD, Gymnasium, Lubov, NURTUREart, NARS Foundation, Abrons Art Center, and other spaces. She has participated in residencies and intensives at the Ox-Bow School of Art, Art in General, and A.I.R. Gallery.