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Gianluca Costantini
Political Comics

Pandemic cartographies: a conversation on mappings, imaginings and emotions

The project ‘The Voyage of Italy’, 9 realised by the artist-activist Gianluca Costantini, namely one of the most important graphic journalists in Italy, moves in a similar direction. Stuck at home, Costantini played with the idea of the traditional grand tour of the nineteenth century, imagining a far more dramatic travel across Italy’s pandemic chronotopes: his voyage presents a collection of drawings inspired by amateur photographs mostly taken by nurses and doctors during the health emergency. His counter-map of Italy represents hospitals and field hospitals, army trucks transporting corpses from one city to another and military checkpoints in the streets, together with other symbols of newly-appeared borders and restrictions on our daily mobilities during the pandemic. To facilitate their worldwide circulation, the illustrations include only short captions to indicate the location – Parma, Ravenna, Milan, Bergamo, Piacenza, Venice, Rome and Vo’ Euganeo, among others. These photographs and evocative illustrations function as ‘meaningful COVID visualizations’ (Bowe, Simmons, and Mattern 2020, 2) of the new material landscapes of the pandemic: their assemblage leads to the composition of an emotional and visual cartography that evokes readers’ affective engagement (Figure 7). On this voyage, as in Ponzi’s chronicle or in The New Yorker’s postcards, maps are ‘absent but implicit’ (Carey, Walther, and Russell 2009, 321). In fact, the reference to a precise spatio-temporal context suggests a cartographic use of these illustrations, which permits readers to locate and put them in relation, mapping the effects of the pandemic on everyday landscapes around the world. Continue

Published in Mobilities, bi Giada Peterle, 2021

Pandemic cartographies: a conversation on mappings, imaginings and emotions

ABSTRACT. This paper is a response to the pervasive spread of both cartographic materials related to the COVID-19 pandemic and critical commentaries about such materials. Written by four Italian map-scholars with different theoretical backgrounds but similar socio-cultural and emotional con- cerns, this paper emerged spontaneously, following the impulse to grasp the rapid movement of coronavirus cartographies, particularly online. Through conversations carried out during the lockdown, the authors collaboratively observed how both scientific and governmental, as well as existential and affective features of the pandemic have been informed by cartographic imaginings. This plurality of cartographic visuals and mapping practices, which appeared soon after the coronavirus out- break, requires exponential research angles. Approaching the pandemic through and in the proximity of maps, mapping practices, map-like objects and creative cartographies, this paper aims to foreground the speculative, empirical and fast-moving expressions of the pandemic’s cartographic imagery.

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