Agustina Woodgate is busy in her studio working on her upcoming project for Art Basel Miami Beach and watching a David Bowie documentary as she painstakingly erases maps from the pages of a world atlas.
"I am learning a lot of geography," quips the Argentine artist. "It was my least favorite subject during my four years of high school in Buenos Aires," she says. "I had to repeat the class every year in summer school. But my teacher would really be proud of me now," she adds.
Indeed, her teacher would and not just because the talented artist can locate Algeria or Turkey on a map. Woodgate is about to show her prowess with the subject matter on the world stage this December when she presents "New Landscapes" at the Art Positions sector of ABMB with Spinello Projects.
Her gallery is one of only two local spaces selected to exhibit at the big fair during the international arts confab, and Woodgate is eager to represent Miami.
At Art Positions, Woodgate will be exhibiting three different representations of the Earth, each as a fresh proposal for a territorial exploration where the boundaries that separate different cultures are blurred. The results offer a notion of optimism with a sense of muted beauty.
"I have been sanding off the maps from a The Times Atlas of the World printed in 1990," explains the artist. "It has 500 maps in it and right now I'm working on Germany."
She has also been listening to books on tape to keep her focused as she meticulously hand rubs the colored ink off the thick geographical tome with pieces sand paper in a laborious process that takes hours.
"As the maps begin to disappear, they take on an almost ghostly landscape effect and begin to look a bit like watercolors," says Woodgate. "I am also collecting the dust residue from all the scraping and separating them in piles of different colors. So far I have about 50 mounds, and I will also incorporate those in the project. There are several shades of blue, for example, each representing different depths of the ocean."
In addition to her erased atlas, Woodgate will also display an erased globe of the world and a map, she says.
"I've been listening to a lot of Sherlock Holmes and Journey to the Center of the Earth," she says while sanding her surfaces. "I'm getting real educated, I'll tell you."
1111, Agustina Woodgate
Woodgate's other Basel project, which will be exhibited as part of the UR1 Festival at Bayfront Park, is also part of her ongoing investigation into displaced landscapes.
Titled 1111, it was commissioned last year by Locust Projects and is a giant street sign that refracts light depending on the light source at different times of the day, creating a rainbow effect.
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"For me the rainbow is a universal sign of unity," says Woodgate.
"Did you know that Noguchi helped design Bayfront Park?" asks the artist. "I recently discovered that, and my rainbow will be exhibited atop of a high tower structure he created so you might say I will be collaborating with Noguchi during Basel, even if he doesn't know it."