Bottom-up cartographic publications mapping a country,
region or city by the inhabitants themselves

“A map is a coded compact representation of reality, and coding means making choices, classifying and simplifying many layers of information. Any choice that is made in the context of the territories shown, is political. As such, a map can never be neutral. Taking into account that maps play a regular role in the discourse, in the talk that shapes our world, makes them objects that should be constantly critically questioned. Which authority draws the lines? What really defines our borders? Do geographic boundaries limit our territories or are they specified by the speed of internet, tax havens, piracy, Google or our holiday destinations?“

Subjective Editions is a publishing initiative that develops and disseminates bottom-up engaged mapping publications. An expanding series of subjective atlases is being made in collaboration with local communities. These volumes map out a country, region or geopolitical entity in a personal way by the inhabitants themselves.

During several workshops artists, designers, photographers and architects are invited to map their country, environment or social concerns from their own perspective. They capture their engagement in maps, graphs, inventories, flags or drawings. Personal involvement is the starting point to produce human, unconventional and just images.  Each work stems from involvement with the subjects and takes an engaged, critical and transparent position, not a neutral or so-called objective one. 

As such, the contributions not only show their own story, but also develop meta-reflections on contemporary forms of living together and community building. This creative trajectory illustrates how design can be an important tool for soft power and how it helps to imagine a different future. The Subjective Atlas is therefore also a proposition for a creative mentality that is politically engaged, socially sensitive, collaborative in nature and transdisciplinary in its method, to expose the consequences of political change, but discreetly, implicitly and not as a goal. 

The publications show, above all, a complex reality that is often blinded by overly simplistic media images. As a powerful series of alternative, copyright-free cartographies they can serve as an inspiring, publicly available tool to critically question the apparently objective.


If you are interested in developing an atlas on your region, get in touch with us.


 Designer Annelys Devet (B/NL) is the founder and artistic director of Subjective Editions
Curator Kurt Van Belleghem (B) is the producer and publisher of the  Subjective Editions
Designer Hugo Herrera Tobón (NL/CO) initiated Subjective atlas of Colombia and is co-producer and designer for Subjective Editions