Julie Mehretu, Stadia, 2004.
“We talk regularly now of a world increasingly out of control, beyond comprehension; this is Mehretu’s world. There are disasters, certainly - among them a proliferating information culture, sublime in the scale of its urgency and apparent omniscience, that reinforces a hysteric fear of being overwhelmed, overstimulated and utterly unable to maintain a grasp on our lives. Everything is happening everywhere but we’re missing it because we can only be here. However, Mehretu’s ‘narrative maps without a specific place or location’, as she terms her paintings, allow us to be nowhere and everywhere at the same time.2 She takes the position of Walter Benajmin’s famous angel of history, looking at this world as an accumulating wreckage of events, its strata piled up yet transparent, a chain of events both painterly and referential that are collapsed into a single catastrophe.3 In our despair she is our angel, offering a view that, while utterly decontextualised, feels sympathetic. Her provision of the appearance of an overwhelming amount of data from a safe distance keeps the chaos from being threatening, even at the enormous scale at which she sometimes works.”
— Peter Eleey