July 2022

Atlas of a Paper Empire

Atlas of a Paper Empire is a cartography of the San Telmo Museum in Donostia / San Sebastian through the old maps from its archive. After digitizing the documents, the artists Iratxe Jaio and Klaas van Gorkum have created an algorithm that plots a random path across a world bound only by the limits of the museum’s own collection. In this way, Atlas of a Paper Empire reduces the world to the scale of the museum, directing the gaze from its building towards the city, the province, the state, the continent, until reaching the former colonies.

Atlas of a Paper Empire was produced for Museo Bikoitza (Double Museum), an annual program of rereadings of the San Telmo Museum collection and its narratives of display. The opening presentation is on the 28th of July 2022, at 11:00 a.m., with drinks at 12:00 in the museum patio. The installation will be on display for a whole year, after which it will form part of the museum's collection.

Nobuko Hayashi produces handbound volume for Atlas of a Paper Empire with Henk Roest

For the project Atlas of a Paper Empire we have asked our friend, artist and bookbinder Nobuko Hayashi to produce a handbound volume that could function as a projection screen. Together with the experienced Henk Roest from Boekbinderij Roest, she has realized a tome of extraordinary dimensions. It measures 70cm by 100cm when opened, and counts 540 blank pages that have been sewn together by hand.

Hinrich Sachs nominated by Iratxe Jaio and Klaas van Gorkum as their successor for Museo Bikoitza

The strict division between the categories of fine art and ethnography in museums of cultural heritage is a contentious topic. Any attempt to redress the balance between the two tends to meet with resistance, as soon as it challenges the core values and conventions from which museums derive their authority.

With Museo Bikoitza, however, the San Telmo Museum in Donostia / San Sebastian has generously opened up a pioneering space of experimentation between these categories, and granted a prominent role to artistic practices in the development of innovative approaches to its own ethnographic collection and narratives of display.

To do justice to the scope of this undertaking requires a certain cultural sensibility, and a capacity to look beyond the horizon of one’s own discipline. That is why, after careful deliberation, we are pleased to nominate Hinrich Sachs as our successor in the Museo Bikoitza project.