Mapping Mobilities, 5th to 7th June in Vienna

The exhibition Mapping Mobilities presents six international artists who develop new and experimental approaches to mapping to explore questions around mobility, displacement and migration.


Using film, installation, print and audio Gulnara Kasmalieva/Muratbek Djumaliev, Esther Polak/Ivar van Bekkum and Michael Hieslmair/Michael Zinganel blur the boundaries between art and scientific mapping to challenge the authority of official maps and their role in the nexus of power knowledge. Their mappings develop alternative visions on currently pressing socio-economic and geo-political global issues such as transnational migration, spatial implications of global commerce, border policies and the digitalisation of geographical information, thereby discrediting the grand narratives of history in favor of a focus on everyday lives, individual journeys and personal narratives.



Globalisation has dramatically changed our experience of space. It seems that the static, two-dimensional map no longer adequately reflects the constantly shifting world we live in and the global networks that migratory experience produces. Mapping Mobilities questions the traditional map as an objective representation of the ‘real’, aiming to present counter-cartographies that draw attention to what is often left off the map, by exposing the fragmentations and inconsistencies of transitional spaces in the age of migration.



The power of the map long resided in its function as a ‘fixed’ representation of the world. Today digital technologies such as GIS allow us to produce mobile, more fluid and democratic spatial information. The artists in Mapping Mobilities engage with mapping as a process-oriented, collective practice from different perspectives. Interested in questions of power, identity and place they chart not only geographic realities but thought processes relating to other disciplines such as colonial imperialism, urbanism and global economy, offering new potential for shaping contemporary experiences of space. 

Artist information:


Michael Hieslmair / Michael Zinganel

Exit St. Pankraz, 2007-2011

Mixed Media installation, dimensions variable


Michael Hieslmair’s and Michael Zinganel’s EXIT St. Pankraz (2007) maps a motorway service center located in Upper Austria as a hub where streams of mobility and transnational migration routes intersect. Post-war commercial development, increasing traffic and the extension of the road network has gradually transformed the motorway at the end of the Alps into one of the most important trans-national and trans-Alpine north-south connections in Europe. The route is known as the ‘guest worker route’, stretching from Holland and Germany to the states of former Yugoslavia and Turkey. The installation EXIT St. Pankraz consists of interviews with staff, regular customers and people who stopped at the motorway service center in the course of their travels. Their individual stories track the political, social and commercial changes within Europe, reflecting issues such as the fall of the Iron Curtain, the Yugoslavian crisis or the situation of ‘guest-workers’ in Europe. Initially co-produced with Maruša Sagadin and presented on site, the exhibition Mapping Mobilities at Open Systems 2012 will showcase a site-specific installation of EXIT St. Pankraz.


Gulnara Kasmalieva / Muratbek Djumaliev

A New Silk Road: Algorithm of Survival and Hope, 2007

Photograpy, dimension variable

Courtesy of Laura Bulian Gallery


Kasmalieva's and Djuamaliev's project A New Silk Road: Algorithm of Survival and Hope, which was commissioned by the Art Institute of Chicago, consists of a 5-channel video and a series of photographs mapping the local impact of today's global economies along the remains of the Central Asian Silk Road. Mapping Mobilities will present a selection of photographs that document the new reality of this ancient trade route that, after the fall of the Iron Curtain, has become a cross-road for the economic and political interests of Russia, China and the United States. 


Shot along the Silk Road in Kyrgyzstan, the images capture derelict Soviet-lorries as they haul carriages of rusting iron from Central Asia into China, juxtaposed by the caravans of shiny, large Chinese 18-wheelers that, barrelling through the narrow passes in the opposite direction, are loaded with cheaply manufactured mass goods destined for the European markets.


Along the way, entrepreneurial residents of small Kyrgyz farms and poverty-stricken tiny towns creatively embark on this new road of commerce, economically exchanging with and benefiting from both sets of trucks.


Esther Polak / Ivar van Bekkum

NomadicMilk, 2007 - 2010

Mixed-Media Installation, size variable



Today traditional cartographic normative and codes are challenged through GPS and GIS, new fluid and democratic mapping strategies that are able to situate the individual in the complex network of relations within and between communities and places. Esther Polak’s and Ivar van Bekkum's project NomadicMilk (2009) tracks the daily routes and spatial intersections of two milk related economies in Nigeria with GPS: the routes of the Fulani, nomadic herdsmen who move with their cattle in annual migrations in search of water, food and markets and the distribution networks of PEAK milk, a Dutch company whose condensed milk cans and milk powder sachets are available on every street corner in Nigeria. The NomadicMilk’s project was thoroughly documented online in a weblog, and has known many different presentation variations. At Open Systems the website is presented together with 12 mono-prints that depict specific milk routes. 


supported by 


MA 7 - Interkulturelle und Internationale Aktivitäten

Mondriaan Foundation

kind support provided by toolsatwork



About us:

Open Friday, Saturday 13.00 - 18.30 and open for the rest of the week days by appointment only. Admission free.


Open Systems

Zentrum für Kunstprojekte

Lassingleithnerplatz 2

A- 1020 Vienna



(+43) 699 115 286 32

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Open Systems - Zentrum für Kunstprojekte aims to create the most vital facilities for art concerned with contributing a model strategy for cross-border and interregional projects on the basis of improving new approach.