“Where are you from?”

It’s one of the most basic questions that exists in any language, one of the first that will be introduced in any foreign language class. Yet the concept is deceptively simple. One of the most privileged relations we can have with space is our relationship to our "home" or "where we're from.” In this exhibit, we seek to explore the some of the most fundamental relationships we can have with space: What does home mean? How can it be mapped?

Our investigation of origin stories is inspired by the approach of geographer David Harvey, who argues that there are certain topics that can only be approached through the concept of relational space. He writes, "I cannot box political and collective memories in some absolute space (clearly situate them on a grid or a map) nor can I understand their circulation according to the rules, however sophisticated, of relative space-time. If I ask the question: what does Tiananmen Square or 'Ground Zero' mean, then the only way I can seek an answer is to think in relational terms.”

As curators of this Omeka exhibit, we have sought to display and analyze a multiplicity of ways that the relational concept of origins can be literally and figuratively mapped. This exhibit explores mappings of this particular kind of relational space through four interlocking themes: mapping genetic origins, mapping linguistic origins, mapping national homelands, and mapping objecthood.


Bionic Four: Erin Hutchinson, Jessie Labov, Edyta Materka, Scott Valentine