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dereliction [2005]
13.5 x 21 in

an original poem by M.T. Karthik on seafarer’s maps salvaged by G. Borsa from a derelict tugboat on the Newtown Creek that separates the boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn, NY; with gouache, acrylic, ink, and collage of printed paper, printed plastic and color prints from digital media by M.T. Karthik; bound by C.K. Wilde

Initially authored during the Republican National Convention as it was taking place in New York City, “dereliction” [2004] begins with a slap across the face of the Prince of Wales in 2001.  A reprint of the BBC World Service Internet screenshot features 19-year-old Alina striking Charles with a rose in Riga, Latvia, and is collaged into a map of the seagoing entrance to the Gulf of Riga in the Baltic.  Accompanying text reports that Alina was protesting the then recently begun bombing of Afghanistan by the United States and the United Kingdom. This is the only spread in the book which maps an actual place.

An invocation:
“O, Chorus of unknown seas, drowning the known to smithereens”
leads the viewer from the map and image of an actual place into a fantasy cartography.

As an organizing principle each folio is designed such that no spread has paper from the same original map in its recto and verso facia.  To achieve this, the maps were spread out, cut into quarters and recomposed, designed primarily with an aesthetic created from the juxtaposition of land masses and water. The land and water were then treated with media to create text that serves to obfuscate specificity further, but also to unify bodies of water and masses of land.

Each spread (including the title page and frontispiece) is composed from deconstructed maps positioned to create shorelines and seaways with no basis in earthly reality. The result is a deconstruction of the original maps that creates an atlas of a world familiar yet not accurately descriptive of any known place. The title page is companioned with a frontispiece detailing the title, as the first sets of waves of text appear in the sea: “the ship of state is derelict”.

Figures rigid in concept, but loose and flexible in media, create a striking paradox, as patterns of zeroes and ones are painted in gouache across the land masses – a reminder of digital output and a haunting count.
Swiftly, the context leaps back in time to the era of the Atomic Bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as a play on words is employed in the repeating waves of text in the sea: Truman as the “worst president,” the decision to use the bomb as the “worst precedent”. [Curatorial note: there are momentary and unique changes in the underlying text in each spread. In this case, buried in the text are two additions:  “the buck stops here” and “worst Missouri Mob” … meant to implicate unseen hands behind the Truman presidency.]

A spread follows featuring the English transliteration of the name of Hiroshima copied 1,000 times and of Nagasaki 750 times and leads to the A-bomb spread: the spread with the most text in the book, in all five layers, including the Sanskrit transliteration of Chapter 11, Verse 32, from the Bhagavad Gita, quoted by Oppenheimer upon seeing the cloud from the first successful test of his atomic bomb.

From the A-Bomb spread, “dereliction” [2005] continues to accuse the founders of the U.S. of genocide and the current leaders of the United States of militarization for centuries. A parallel is made between the figure cited by Bartholomew de las Casas as killed by Columbus’ ventures and a figure representing those killed by the USA abroad in covert and overt operations between 1945 and 2001 and digital photos of pre-columbian sculptures from Oaxaca, Mexico float in the seas.

The centerfold of “dereliction” [2005] employs a quote from James Joyce’s “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” to make a point about the rush to war in Iraq. In the novel, Joyce describes his class being asked by his teacher, to copy the phrase “zeal without prudence is like a ship adrift,” repeatedly. At the place marked in the maps as “Middleground” this quote is written over and over as instructed, and creates the central thesis of the text: that the USA is adrift, waging bungled wars led by men who don’t know even simple philosophical truths.

The text then moves to an admonition of those adrift without such knowledge:

“Oh, woe betide ye, adrift at sea, without even a cosmology”

and concludes by offering a cosmology in the form of a Haiku [5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables]:

a cosmology :
sun father mother ocean
the moon is a god