The Maps of Phantom Islands

Agnieszka Kurant | Poland, 2011

The Maps of Phantom Islands

What are the politics and economies involved in the production of knowledge?

These phantom territories have appeared on maps at different points in history as results of misconceptions about the world, rumours and mirages observed in different places around the globe. Some were intentional errors of explorers who persuaded governments to get funding for conquering new lands; others were strategically invented by noblemen and governments. Though fictitious, these phantom islands were often the object of real economic transactions or real conflicts. Some of them were only removed from maps in the 1940s, after the development of aerial photography.


Agnieszka Kurant’s recent exhibitions include the Istanbul Biennial, curated by Nicolas Bourriaud; The Age of You at the MOCA Toronto, curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist, Douglas Coupland and Shumon Basar, and Milano Triennale, curated by MoMa curator Paola Antonelli. In 2019, she was awarded the Frontier Art Prize. She is an artist-in-residence at MIT CAST, and a fellow of the Berggruen Institute and the Smithsonian Institute.

Instagram: @agnieszka.kurant