Performing Mimetic Mapping: A Non-Visualisable Map of the Suzhou River Area of Shanghai

Anastasia Karandinou, Leonidas Koutsoumpos


This paper questions issues concerning the mapping of experience, through the concept of mimesis – the creative re-performance of the site experience onto the map. The place mapped is the Suzhou River area, a significant part of Shanghai, the former boundary between the British and American Settlements, and an ever-changing and transforming territory. Through the detailed description of the mapping processes, we analyse the position of this particular map within contemporary discourse about mapping. Here, we question the purpose of the process, the desired outcome, the consciousness of the significance of each step/event, and the possible significance of the final traces that the mapping leaves behind. Although after the mapping had been carried out, the procedure was analysed, post-rationalised, and justified through its partial documentation (as part of an educational process), this paper questions the way and the reason for these practices (the post-rationalising of the mapping activity, justifying the strategy, etc.), and their possible meaning, purpose, demand or context. Thus we conclude that the subject matter is not the final outcome of an object or ‘map’; there is no final map to be exhibited. What this paper brings forth is the mapping as an event, an action performed by the embodied experience of the actual place and by the trans-local materiality of the tools and elements involved in the process of its making.

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