We once covered the amazing book Mapping Manhattan in which Becky Cooper collected people’s memory maps of Manhattan as she walked the length of Broadway. We also showed you the artist Olek, who yarnbombs everything she sees: from the Wall Street Bull to whole people in parks. Well now, someone has knitted a map of Manhattan. In artist Santa Wolanczyk’s piece, Knitted Manhattan, she has distorted Manhattan to mirror the distortion process of memory.
As she describes: “Our brain distorts facets and assembles imagery differently each time. Each memory is also colored by the times it has been recalled, eventually resulting in an image that is removed from the original experience. I am interested in the changes that create new representations of space and place. To imitate this abstraction, I have been deconstructing and rearranging neighborhood maps of Manhattan.”
Santa explained that she grew up between her mom’s house in a small Long Island town and her dad’s place in the East Village. “My experience with New York,” she said, “is that it has always been crazy overwhelming… but it is also so familiar and like home.” She said that growing up she rarely left her dad’s neighborhood, and didn’t even make it to Williamsburg until she was 18, which seems crazy to her now and is what sparked her fascination with how everyone experiences New York in their own way.”
To create this fourteen-foot map, Santa used a 36x12st knitting machine which reads a punch card with a pattern on it: the map for the map. For the pattern, she used traced screenshots of Google maps and then combined them with the memories that altered her personal experience of the city: “Like one time I walked all the way down to Bowling Green and couldn’t remember the way home. I sat in this triangle shaped grassy park area which is actually pretty small on the scale of the park map, but that shape makes up the pattern of the lower end of Manhattan.”
But for East Village, dense with memory, she drew her own maps before overlaying the Google maps. “It was really interesting to compare my maps to the actual maps,” she said, “to see what is important to me: the park, the bodega, certain trees, specific shops, this huge abandoned school across from my dads apartment.” Santa calls the project “a practice in deconstruction, distortion, and reassembly.”
Here are some more photos: