David Byrne


I was invited to propose something for the space on West 25th Street under the High Line that will, in the next year, become an expansion of The Pace Gallery. I looked at the space, although I'd walked by it loads of times while checking out gallery shows in the neighborhood, and I actually wasn't sure anything would work with the inherent site-specific restrictions: the space is noisy, chaotic, and, when I saw it, half-filled with parked cars. It gives serious competition to anything placed inside of it.

I realized that the type of map we associate with our days at primary school, with our childhoods—that was what I was imagining—is not a realistic rendering of our planet or a map showing the physical world. This childhood world is all nation states, and all of them are in pastel colors with the names labeled (the pastel colors are practical—they allow the type to be legible), with a few rivers maybe and some other features (the equator, perhaps)—but not much else. That's the world we—at least some of us—grew up with. A wholly unrealistic world, a world of somewhat arbitrary political units. Not a planet of clouds, deep-blue oceans, beige deserts, and swaths of green jungle. The squishing of an oversize childhood thing is sort of fun, it's not overly metaphorical—it's a childhood thing that's grown way out of proportion and has been constrained by what? The grown-up world of train lines, apartment buildings, and art galleries?