A Look at Cartography

There’s something about a large format magazine that gives it undeniable weight and presence. Often used for fashion, travel is just as suitable and underused. If most of the content is photography, why not give it the space to shine? Cartography utilises this to its advantage, and has produced something that is simultaneously striking and intimate.

Between its pages, issue two traverses through the Peruvian Amazon, Northern Cyclades and Faroe Islands, immediately setting itself apart from the catalogues of holiday destinations. Cartography comes across as more personal. The photographers and writers who visit these far-flung places are quite humble, recognising their own displacement and embracing the foreign culture with benign curiosity. Being a tourist or a visitor is a topic of exploration for the denizens. It’s not just about going to a place and exploring it, it’s about uncovering its identity, and the people who make it.

The photography is at the forefront, with a relaxed portraiture feel to it; a lot of the time they aren’t searching for their best side or angle. The coloration of each place shifts with the heat and the cold, sparsely organic and unprocessed. They show it honestly and without fuss, including the people. One of my favourite portraits was of a woman and her child on the Faroe Islands, because you only notice the child from its wellington boot as it hides behind her. Each photograph is sensitive and unassuming, as if shot through the eyes of a native.

It is a bit weird, then, after so many portraits of Amazonians, hazy seas and cut cliffs to have a minimalist fashion feature of a solitary Prada shoe beside a bit of sponge and Armani bag with a feather leaning on it. It seems somewhat out of character, an unnecessary and luxurious add-on, to a rather rougher publication.

'The country or place visited always seems to have a profound effect on the one experiencing it, and these details are distilled into consumable morsels.'

That aside, the translation from Italian to English is impeccable, with wonderful flow. Each place has a brief foreword which lays out the itinerary of each trip, with hotels, restaurants, bars and places of interest. The magazine has no and needs no introduction; the table of contents is at the back. As for the content, some images can speak for themselves, but the stories which attend are engaging and unique. The country or place visited always seems to have a profound effect on the one experiencing it, and these details are distilled into consumable morsels. Fragments, such as being healed by ayahuasaca to sampling the restorative food of Greece, paint a sensory portrait, where each visitation leaves a palpable imprint.

Some places featured are less accessible or entertaining, some certainly don’t jump out as holiday destinations, but isn’t that what is so exciting about a travel magazine? Discovering or learning about somewhere you never previously considered to go, sparking wanderlust, whetting your appetite with the flavour of a place. If we can have slow living, slow news, slow travel is a pleasure to dwell in and be inspired by.

Please also take the time to enjoy the portrait of a very handsome sloth on the rear page; he is outstandingly regal. 

Libby Borton


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