This signed etching from 2008 is a limited edition of 15 from Grayson Perry’s Map collection. The vertical etching shows a detailed and rich purple map, dominated by the artist’s own head which trumps over the rest of the depiction.
This map draws from a vast historical tradition of map-making and cartography. Using various art-historical references within most of his works, Perry admitted to having taken inspiration from 16th-century Dutch maps of this series of works. However, the reference here is even more specific, insofar as the mapping of the depiction onto the artist’s own body takes from a religious Christian tradition of mapping the world onto the body of Christ. Taking as his own departure point the Ebstorf Map, a German medieval Mappa Mundi destroyed to the Hanover bombing of 1943, Perry focuses his depiction on portraying his “internal states”. Making use of a variety of symbols, the Map intriguingly draws the viewer into a complex self-portrait of the artist. Using words such as “doubt”, “hubris” and “post-ironic sincerity”, the artist hints at his contradictions and lays himself bare to the viewer with sincerity, irony and originality.
Rather than a real topography, Map Of Nowhere represents a portrayal of Perry’s identity in all of its polarising and competing aspects, a trope the artist used time and time again in pieces like Map of An Englishman.