Deep mapping and beyond? An ongoing conversation.
This quotation introduces Mary Watkins’ radical book: Mutual Accompaniment and the Creation of the Commons (Yale University Press, 2019). In a chapter in Walking Bodies: Papers, Provocations, Actions, (Triarchy Press, 2020), Iain Biggs takes as his point of departure the need for a collective walking away from art made in the image of possessive individualism and towards one predicated on mutual accompaniment. He concludes:
So, am I advocating walking away from deep mapping (or indeed from art itself, at least as we currently understand it)? I’m not sure. ‘Yes’, if they are reduced to supporting mechanisms for a conceptually driven worldview caught up in serving the culture of possessive individualism. ‘No’, if they contribute to ensemble practices predicted on mutual accompaniment.
In Creative Engagements with Ecologies of Place (Routledge, 2020), Mary Modeen and Iain Biggs suggest that deepmapping is less a method for producing deep maps than an impetus to forms of practical enquiry and action; that is to say, more of an inclusive creative mentalité. In devoting this curated digital space to fostering this ongoing conversation, PLaCE International hopes to contribute to the continuation, promotion and development of that mentalité in various ways, and at a pace that is simply not possible using the channels offered by academic publishing.
We hope to facilitate the long-running conversations that have informed debates about the value and limitations of deep mapping. If deep mapping is less an extension of the practices of paper or digital cartography than evocations of an inclusive, ecosophically-informed mentalité, then it is inevitable that this conversation will not necessarily be about 'mapping' – or even ‘deep mapping’ - as we generally think of it. The examples and exchanges that will be posted here may include or point to such maps, but that is not our primary concern. We believe that what animates deep mapping, as one articulation of that mentalité among many, is the need to provide linked evocative/poetic and conceptual/analytic interweavings of disparate narratives related to different psychic, social and environmental modes of existence and experience. In short, Modeen and Biggs as Co-Directors of PLaCE International, desire to provide through this channel of creative collaborative practices, concrete evocations of the inclusive, more-than-disciplinary, 'joined-up' thinking and acting we now so desperately need, post-COP26.
If you have come to help me, you are wasting your time.
But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine,
Then let us work together.
-Aboriginal Activist Group, Queensland, Australia, 1970s.