The Empire Strikes Back
Maps have served as a means of orientation since time immemorial, revealing contexts and correlations that may not be visible from any of the perspectives available in the original space. But finding our way around Stephan Huber’s fictitious large-format topographies – something the artist has been working on since the 1990s – is no easy task, for they open up a fantastical associative cosmos. In The Empire Strikes Back (2009), we find ourselves caught up in the midst of climatic dystopia and strange, not to say threatening natural phenomena. As source material, the artist uses American military maps and details from city maps, which he then takes apart and reassembles into new formations. Fiction and genuine threat become blurred. In some places, reality suddenly overtakes fiction, for instance when we read of the ‘so-called eagle virus’. Stephan Huber has created a topographical design entirely of his own making; his fictitious landscapes are at times fantastical, at others ironic or unsettling, testifying always to the artist’s huge enthusiasm for storytelling.
Stephan Huber, born 1952, lives in Munich, Germany.