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We're All Mad Here 

Wednesday, Dec 26 2007
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Sometimes, you look at a piece of art, and you like it, but you become partially uncomfortable as you realize the person who made this is mad. At "Francesca Berrini," the Portland artist tears up real maps and reassembles them into fictional ones. At first glance, you can't tell they're fakes -- topographical color-indicators follow logical patterns, rivers deepen where they should, and national boundaries look sensible. Vast yellowy plains drain into green deltas, and pinpoint islands crowd shorelines. But all of it, you soon notice, is mottled like a child's papier-mache project, covered with tiny overlapping pieces of map, none larger than a typewriter key. It dawns on you that the edges of these are fuzzy, not sharp, meaning Berrini did not use scissors, and that will hurt your brain a little. Though the effect is a little unsettling, the overall look is pure polished fairytale, sometimes with jewel-like insets of vintage travel photos: Trucks, zeppelins, ancient tourist traps. It's grand stuff, some impossibly large, that rewards scrutiny but doesn't require it. Is Berrini unhinged? Probably not, but don't take our word for it.
Dec. 6-Jan. 25, 2007

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Hiya Swanhuyser

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