An overview by Liam Machado
“Speaking to the permeability of borders and the development of new communities in cyberspace, Ana Mosquera’s cartographic archive-of-sorts Rhumb Lines charts a topography in flux, partly in response to moments of social upheaval such as the ongoing political and economic crisis in Venezuela.
One component of the archive, Rhumb Lines (Líneas de ruta), aptly showcases the artist’s commitment to exploring how “cyber-territories” are elaborated and populated, and how they subsequently construct relations with one another through public platforms such as Facebook. In a process that Mosquera describes as “data mining” conducted manually, rather than by the opaque algorithms of tech and social media mega corporations, she joined Facebook groups catered toward displaced Venezuelan nationals abroad, particularly those based in Cúcuta, Colombia. Mosquera then methodically registered the names of every member in said groups, along with their possible destinations into Microsoft Excel, based upon their characteristics, public posts, and “other things we had in common.”
Major cities in Colombia, Peru, and Ecuador where group members were likely to pass through or end their migration were marked with an X: Cúcuta, Barranquilla, Lima, Quito, Guayaquil, and others are represented not as points on a map, but as rows in a spreadsheet, seemingly decontextualized networks of information—networks of people—that appear to diffuse outward onto uncertain trajectories. Collating these names and destinations, Mosquera used a Jacquard loom to render her research into a series of Ikat-patterned textiles, small white clusters of digital data manifesting uneasily onto rusty red fields. They do not resemble maps, in a traditional sense, yet these data clusters encapsulate the stories of hundreds of Venezuelans—stories that Mosquera deliberately left unverified by the end of the project.
Imagined geographies, fraught journeys, and the transformative capacity of borders and border-relations are the affective pillars of Rhumb Lines and Mosquera’s practice at large, which she describes as both personal and political. Through a combination of innovative textile work and sculptural materials, including Jacquard weaving, digitally-collected data and text—often taken from the online posts of migrants—her most recent works continue to explore the relationship between territories on the Internet and in physical space.”