Cartographic satire in Kozani

A lounging Ottoman Turk in the shape of the Ottoman Empire smokes a narghile and squeezes a baby: the brand-new Greek nation. A bear-shaped Russia threatens Europe, while the Atlantic and Pacific oceans celebrate the opening of the Panama Canal with a kiss. England is depicted as an apathetic fisherman more interested in empire building than in its neighbors. Anthropomorphic maps of Europe that relate its history through allegorical imagery are on display at the new exhibition, «Satirical Cartoon Maps of World History,» housed in Kozani’s Lassani Mansion. Predating political cartoons, these singular maps are works of art designed by clearly talented artists and show seven centuries of satirical cartographical history. The heretical monk Opicinus de Canistris of Pavia – also known as the «Mad Map-man» – was the first to sketch an anthropomorphic map of Europe in the early 1300s. It included daring religious and geographical commentary, as well as moral comparisons between nations. A copy of one of his maps from the Vatican’s collection – the first piece in the exhibit – depicts Africa as a monk and Europe as a loose woman. Thessaloniki is included on this map, probably because of its role in the religious struggles going on at the time. «The blending of cartoons and cartography has been used for social and political allegory, as metaphorical imagery and also as a commentary that may happen to resonate more widely,» says Evangelos Livieratos, professor of geodesy and cartography at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, and the curator of this exhibition. Approximately 25 satirical cartoon maps are on display at the Lassani Mansion in Kozani, while over 100 maps are shown on a video wall, relating the troubled history of the 19th century. The exhibition will run until March 2. For details, call 2461.50635/32 or e-mail [email protected]

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