New Zealand born Berlin based artist Zac Langdon-Pole is the 7th recipient of the BMW Art Journey.
Starting out in Central Europe and then weaving through the Pacific Islands, his journey traced how people have been mapping the stars for millennia. Structured in part by the flight-paths of migratory birds, his research encompassed ideas of time, navigation and migration.
When I first proposed to undertake these travels, I was aware of how the constellations known in the so-called ‘West’ had, through colonization, become a kind of universal blueprint for identifying the stars. I wanted to unravel this universalising tendency by tracing the historical gaps and relations between European maps of the stars and indigenous perspectives from the Pacific. While cartography of the Earth’s surface can predicate politics of territory, resources and conquest, maps of the stars entail the structuring of time, navigation and the making of meaning through narration.
The night sky is, after all, constituted by countless points of information – information that reaches our eyes both in the form of light and its absence. Yet each point of light is travelling from a vastly different distance. So when you look upon a night-sky of stars, you are looking at a multitude of different time-scales simultaneously. How those disparate points of information get assembled into a totality is akin, to me, to how we inscribe information into stories and stories into history, and how, through repeated telling, a given history can gain the weight of truth. In this way, the research I’ve undertaken on these travels has sought to understand how people have inscribed the skies, and in turn, how these inscriptions suture histories of people and place.