“Far Rock,” this hand drawn map by Aaron Reiss (part of Citizen Productions, who made the recent Pinball Marathon video in Greenpoint), shows the Rockaways as seen from the eyes of AnneMarie, a character in the book On the Come Up by Hannah Weyer. It’s a true story of a thirteen-year old coming to terms with teen pregnancy and her unexpected success as a young actor.
The maps are highly rooted in memory, with Reiss asking AnneMarie to draw her neighborhood as she remembers it. Perhaps drawing on the architectural traditions of Colin Rowe and Frank Kotter in Collage City (themselves inspired by the drawings of Viennese architect Camillo Sitte), the map is a black and white figure-ground drawing. Also like Rowe and Kotter, Reiss is more interested in how the fragments of the city form a collective unconscious.
Of the process, Reiss writes,
I asked her to focus on personal landmarks and how they related to each other geographically. For another, I asked her to map common journeys she made and lastly, to map the neighborhood’s boundaries, edges and places of entry and exit. Going over her drawings, I saw that her routes and trajectories would often hit common obstacles (the Nassau Expressway, the coastline, and major project buildings), which forced her to turn or end her journey. As a young girl, AnneMarie rarely had the cause or opportunity to leave Far Rockaway and these obstacles became boundary lines. The map beyond these borders starts to lighten and eventually the buildings dissolve into a void.
AnneMarie assumes that the world beyond Far Rockaway is a lot like her own, but she is not sure for certain what is beyond. The map that I drew imagines Far Rock as a kind of island anchored to the world by a single piece of coastline…For a young girl without a car, The A Train was the only way AnneMarie really left her neighborhood. I drew The A Train as the only reference to Far Rockaway being part of the larger New York City, as an umbilical cord that connects the socially isolated area to the rest of the city.