Travelling, without leaving home

To celebrate the launch of the ninth issue of the Milan-based magazine Cartography, we talked to the editors Luca de Santis and Paola Corini about their work and what the future of travel reporting looks like.

The Galapagos Islands, as seen by artist Luca Trevisani in the 9th issue of Cartography. Luca Trevisani

What’s the concept?
Cartography is a container inside of which different cultures are put in dialogue. Each edition describes three destinations, by providing a photographic imagery, several essays and a map – following day by day the journey of Cartography.

What motivated you to make it?
Traveling is our best way to understand the world. The ethnomusicologist, anthropologist and filmmaker Steven Feld speaks of it in terms of alliances, describing his work as “the wish to find, through dialogue, a new kind of communication capable of bringing closer faraway knowledges and sensibilities, without ever disregarding their belonging to radically different worlds.” We are constantly looking for this dialogue, for creating new alliances.

What makes it different to the rest?
Each approach is subjective and different.

Who works on it and what are their backgrounds?
Paola Corini, Producer and Cultural Manager, and Luca De Sanctis, Art Director, video maker and photographer, founded this project back in 2016. Since then, we are surrounded by artists, philosophers, anthropologists, writers, curators, chefs and photographers in every issue.

Swedish Lapland, photographed by Bea De Giacomo.

Tell us about the new issue.
In Issue #9 we describe twenty-one days into the wild and uncontaminated Galapagos Islands through the eyes of the artist Luca Trevisani, the anthropologist Franco la Cecla and the curator Anna Castelli. For nine days we dive into the mountains of Georgia with the writer Ruska Jorjoliani and the photographer Adrianna Glaviano. Ultimately, we leave for a brief journey in Swedish Lapland with the photographer Bea De Giacomo. Further contributions came from Rodolphe Christin, Davide Coppo, Stephen Gill, Leslie Kern, Parag Khanna, Lawrence Osborne, Jacopo Ottaviani, Valentina Pigmei.

What changed after the Covid-19 pandemic?
Reading and interviewing Rodolphe Christin opened up our mind to new considerations regarding the voyage. His sociological research is focused on mass tourism, highlighting how tourists are clients and consumers of a huge business that trades the beauty of the world. The ones promoting and organizing trips do nothing but supplying an engine, polluting and destroying those places we would like to keep unspoiled and preserved. This study provides a global picture of what is going on and seeks for solutions to the problem. One of them is inviting us to rediscover the “mundane”, the lived-in, the closer places which are to be seen with new eyes.

How important is sustainable travel to you and what are the main challenges for the years ahead?
We need wisdom rather than common sense. Cultures express themselves through relationships, therefore we need shareable cultural patterns. More than the eco-friendly trend we need to enforce social plans aimed to educated the new generations since childhood, and – as suggested by the philosopher Umberto Galimberti – we need to carefully select teachers.

The feature you’re most proud of?
In no particular order. Hunting baboons with bow and arrow alongside the Hadzabe, people of hunters and gatherers living in northern Tanzania who worship the Sun God and the Moon Goddess. Spending time with chimps – one of the few wild ape families still existing – in the mountains of Mahale, on the border between Tanzania and Congo. Sailing by night through the Canadian Arctic, among dark-cobalt icy palaces into a deafening silence. Witnessing the dance of 1500 Native Americans in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, one of the poorest places in the world, and seeing their feathered costumes dancing to the rhythm of the beating drums. Surfing a lagoon in northern Russia, degrees to 0 and unmoving moose watching us. Being baptized and purified by an elderly shaman at the entrance to a village in Kamchatka.

Where do you see Cartography in five years?
We will keep to be – as we were ironically defined by a dear friend of ours – gardeners of the voyage. Let’s set up a time to meet and discover it.

Gianmaria Biancuzzi is executive editor of Milano Art Guide.