Maps Glover. Where in the Maps?
The world of Maps Glover is limitless. Each performance from the multimedia artist is a unique experience, painting images with physical forms. For Issue 1 of the magazine Maps has provided us with an exclusive installment of his Where in the Maps? film series which sees the artist explore relationships between space and time. We sat down with Maps to discuss his work, watch the video and read the interview below.
Watch the Video
Read the Interview
JP: Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview. I wanted to start by asking you to talk about your creative process for the video, both in terms of the concept and in practice.
MG: The video is really a compilation of this project that I’ve been working on since the year started. As a performance artist I’m always looking for ways to understand how body and movement affect the way that people are perceiving what’s happening. Especially since everything is so fast paced now I’m always trying to find quiet moments just to exist with my own process as to what I’m doing. A lot of the images are from documentation of me in spaces where I’m just performing, just existing, just trying to create an energy field of some kind within each of these spaces.
Why I chose certain locations? They may be high-traffic areas, or I’m looking for some way to be completely contradictory of what’s happening. For example, the one scene when I’m on top of the median where the bikes are going by. I go there quite often because there is a different way that energy is passing through those spaces. I was really interested in how people would respond to my physical presence there as they’re speeding down and I’m slowly moving.
JP: The physical aspect that you touch on was really compelling to me, could you talk a bit more about how the idea of ‘the body’ is important to your work as a performance artist?
MG: The body is quite literally, physically, a ship for our spirit and our soul to exist on this planet. Without it we really wouldn’t have reference to anything that’s going on. The body is how we know we’re here. In a lot of ways, I’m acting as this vessel to understand what is going on around me from the sounds, to the smells, to the taste, to how people are interacting. Essentially the body is a sensory spaceship.
JP: I think the way that you use the body is a way of showing that the ideas that you’re discussing are grounded in the world that we live in.
Talking about the idea of feelings and concepts, the piece really comes across as an ‘artist manifesto’, particularly in how you repeat the phrase ‘you will not play for this art, you will live this art’. What would you say your manifesto is?
MG: The idea of ‘art as life’ plays a huge part in the way that I see my own practice. I’ve never worked a 9-5. A lot of the struggle that I used to feel in being an artist relates to having this as the only way that I connect to the world. It is my life.
I know that some people are hobbyists and I think that’s amazing because art is for everybody, and not just for people who paint things or draw things, it’s for people who experience the world. Art is everywhere.
So I’d say it’s a huge part of my personal manifesto to live art and not play for art and to make art understood as a very valuable part of how we understand the world, especially how we understand where we are in a particular time of history. I only exist now, so all of my experiences and what I create is really based off of what my body is experiencing in this space.
” When I think of the name ‘Maps’ I imagine the way in which our experiences become our own internal ‘map’. Our experiences have led us to where we are right now.”
JP: Indeed, I think there’s a really interesting contrast between ‘way of life’ in terms of what you do everyday and art as a real way for you to exist. It seems the piece is really trying to explore an innate human need for expression.
MG: I think about art in terms of the way in which thoughts exist outside of any physical dimension. In essence, you are forming something physical out of thoughts, and ideas, and questions. If you are an accountant, you need to figure out how all of these numbers work together. All of this information that you don’t quite understand yet and you bring it into some sort of a concrete thing. In this way, art is creating something out of nothing; it’s manifesting thoughts and ideas and questions into something that can be digested in some way. Sometimes it’s easy to swallow, sometimes it’s hard to swallow.
JP: So tying that back to the video, would you say that this ‘where in the maps?’ series is your way of figuring things out? Your way of taking your ideas and making something real? Perhaps we could say your version of a tax return!
MG: I think largely it is for me, in that I’m experiencing going to these places and as the series continues it goes deeper into interacting with people I encounter. But on the other hand, it’s also for whoever is experiencing the video. ‘Where in the maps?’ is important for me but it’s not just about me.
When I think of the name ‘maps’ I imagine the way in which our experiences become our own internal ‘map’. Our experiences have led us to where we are right now. This can manifest itself both in physical and mental spaces. For example the beginning of the video opens up with me stretching on the couch in order to find my body physically through my own mental space. I always feel it’s about this journey that we go on. As an artist, and as a person, I like to document that process. All the recordings that are in the series come from me just waking up in the morning and talking out my thoughts to myself. Sometimes they’re depressing and sometimes I’m really empowered by how far I’ve come.
JP: One of the things you touched on there is this idea of space and specifically the idea of the couch. I wanted to think also about the space outside and the dichotomy between the two worlds – the inside and the outside.
MG: The couch is a really intimate space. I spend a lot of time on couches as I’m journeying through, being nomadic at times. I wanted to show the vulnerability of what I’m experiencing internally. Then there’s how I present that internal discussion with myself to the world. So I go out and give my soapbox speech in a few different places because I don’t think a lot of people speak about art in a way where people who are living the experience are valued. A lot of the time it’s really about your last painting or where the last place you showed was but for me as an artist it’s also important being amongst people who are going about their everyday lives. The juxtaposition between those intimate spaces where I’m internally mulling over my thoughts and experiences as an artist and how I fit into the conversation of culture and society, and me just outwardly screaming those thoughts to the world.
“A lot of people say ‘get a job’ and I just think ‘get a job? I’m working everyday’. This is literally every day I’m providing something important to culture and society as an artist, but not only as an artist, as an activist, as a person, as a son, as a brother, as a friend.”
JP: Definitely, and the repetition of statements links back to that idea of an internal and external conversation but would you also say that this idea of repetition is a commentary on the often monotonous way in which people live their lives?
MG: Initially it did start as this repetitive practice because it is something that I do daily in my experience. However it wasn’t necessarily a commentary on the way that we all are doing these repetitive things. It wasn’t intentional, it’s just what I was experiencing.
JP: And often it’s the personal things to us that are reflective of wider society!
I wanted to also talk about the prompt for this issues of the magazine. The video is very closely tied to the idea of power, and the prompt is obviously ‘living in the shadow of power’. I think the last part of the video really offers an explanation for the way in which you’ve used creativity and art to claim power over your own life.
MG: It goes back to what I was saying before about how being an artist is being perceived, how artists are expected to function in society. I know a lot of artists that are starving, sometimes my stomach is empty and I don’t know when this next check is going to come, I don’t know how I’m going to eat but I still put in dedication to making things come to life. A lot of times the only return that I value is people’s experiences. I always find it fascinating how a lot of people, even doctors and lawyers, can relate to some of my experiences in general. It’s always fascinating how those kinds of positions are highly regarded and praised but as an artist sometimes that experience is diminished and belittled for whatever reason. So yeah it really is my way of saying, regardless of how the world is perceiving artists or me as an artist, I’m really interested in breaking free of that and not letting that deter me from continuing to create.
A lot of people say ‘get a job’ and I just think ‘get a job? I’m working everyday’. This is literally every day I’m providing something important to culture and society as an artist, but not only as an artist, as an activist, as a person, as a son, as a brother, as a friend.
JP: That idea of linking activism to art is really interesting. Do you see those as roles that are closely related? Are they distinctly different roles or do they need each other to thrive?
MG: I think activism requires creativity in order to get people who don’t feel empathetic to whatever issue you are talking about to understand where you’re coming from. And a lot of the time that creativity comes out as art.
I see myself as an activist because I refuse to ignore what’s happening around me. I refuse to not have a commentary. If I, as an artist, can see something differently or see a way to better deliver an understanding of what’s happening, I think they’re very closely tied.
Outside of my work now as an artist I work for the Fundred Dollar Bill project which is solely about using creativity. We have over 500,000 of these hand drawn bills which people of all ages have created over the past 10 years in order to help end childhood lead poisoning. So using creativity to bring awareness to issues is extremely important.
JP: What a great way to tie everything back together. As such, is there anything people should look out for in terms of your work in the near future?
MG: So yeah, the most recent thing is that a bunch of my friends and I from the Uptown Art House performed together at the Kennedy Centre on Millenium Stage on March 15th. I’m also going to be performing at the Funk Parade which is coming up in April.