Map of America presents South America in a swirl of colors devoid of national and geographic boundaries. Physical, mental, and social movement is central to the work, which Downey made in conjunction with a road trip from New York through Central and South America. The Chilean-born artist had lived abroad—in France, Spain, and the United States—for nearly a decade, and the trip was the result, he has said, of “a wish to take root once again in the essence of that which was Latin American.” During his travels, Downey videotaped aspects of regional cultures and showed local people his footage to share information and undermine isolation between communities. He later combined his video footage and richly drawn, evocative maps like this one to create the 1976 multimedia installation Video Trans Americas.
Gallery label from A Trip from Here to There, March 15–July 30, 2013.