erika.reed [ ] gmail.com
Maps tell stories. Through maps, we create narratives about the landscapes we inhabit, subdividing and
qualifying them in terms of territories, resources, and cultural and economic values. A map mediates
between the body and the world. My recent work is an investigation into how maps (as both images and
objects) and the performative act of mapping can be used to reflect critically on ecology, volatility and
human intervention. I am interested in the sites where uncontrollable natural forces meet humanity’s
attempts to exert control over the landscapes we inhabit.
Friction Journals is an ongoing project where I explore mapmaking as a mutually formative process
between body and landscape. The project consists of two open-ended works. Both are accordion-style
artist books containing a sequence of two-color etchings from hand-printed copper and zinc etching
plates. The plates, coated in hardground, are carried with me everywhere I go in the course of my
everyday life. The movements and gestures of my body, as well as the other objects I carry with me, leave
marks in the hardground that are subsequently etched into the plate and printed by hand using a viscosity
printing technique. The project is a form of autocartography – both in the sense of self-tracking and
spontaneous or automatic map-making – and the resulting map is ambiguous.
The first work in the series, Friction Journal I: Backpack Tracks, records my movements onto the surface
a different plate for the duration of each month, over the course of eighteen months to date. Each plate
produces a print, and each print serves as a record; of the friction between my body and the world; of the
physical marks left on the landscape by my everyday life; of my activities and actions, and of the things
that I carry. Each page is paired with a series of recollections from that month. As an open-ended
15/07/2020 Gmail – Drifting Bodies contribution
accordion book, Backpack Tracks is an evolving map of movement and memory over space and time,
showing how my body “writes” the landscape, just as it writes me.
The second work, Friction Journal II: Pocket Tracks, uses a similar process to track my impact as a
wildland firefighter during the summer of 2018. Each plate represents a different fire assignment. I carried
a plate in the cargo pocket of my nomex pants for the duration of the assignment. Each print is paired
with quantitative information about the fire, as well as a prevalent memory from each incident. In this
work, the making of a fire map becomes an embodied process of indexical mark-making.
Rather than charting a retraceable path, these projects map my individual engagement with, and passage
through, the landscapes that I occupy, and measure the impact of my work. Using this autocartographic
process, and materials and marks collected in the field at the sites of wildfire suppression activities, I
examine our relationship to this highly dynamic and deeply politicized ecological process.
Erika Reed is a Norwegian/American visual artist based in Oslo, Norway. She holds an MFA in Medium
and Material-Based Art from Oslo National Academy of Art, and a BA in Studio Art from Reed College
in Portland, Oregon, USA. She exhibits her work internationally, and spends her summers perambulating
the Western United States while fighting wildfires for the US Bureau of Land Management.
1. Friction Journal I: Backpack Tracks. 2017-2020. Artist Book (two-color etchings, pencil, and PVA
medium on paper).
2. Friction Journal I: Backpack Tracks (detail)
3. Zinc plate with tracks etched into the surface (september, 2017)
4. Friction Journal II: Pocket Tracks. 2017-2020. Artist Book (two-color etchings, pencil, inkjet and PVA
medium on paper)
5. Friction Journal II: Pocket Tracks (detail).
6. The artist on a wildfire near Carson City, Nevada, USA.
(+47) 905 09 281