Exhibition | Representing the far away: an European view

Published on July 19, 2023 Updated on September 1, 2023

Exhibition organized at the Municipal Library of Lyon, as part of the "International Conference on the History of Cartography" (ICHC) 2024.

What is the distant? Another world, a country, a piece of land or sea, a piece of the universe that is difficult - sometimes impossible - to reach and apprehend. A double distance is imposed with the distant, spatial and mental, physical and cultural. The distant is considered on different scales: on the scale of a region, a continent, the globe, the cosmos... Its perception evolves over time, according to the lifestyles, political projects and technical means of those who perceive it.

We will adopt a point of view: the distant seen from Europe and by Europeans since what we commonly call "the great discoveries" and the diffusion of printing in which Lyon played an essential role. The integration of America into the image of the world was indeed a turning point. From the end of the 15th century onwards, Europeans perceived themselves as the centre of the world, over which they gradually extended their economic, political and cultural influence. The appearance of planispheres on which Europe occupies a central place is the most obvious figurative translation of this. The aim is not to retrace the history of European exploration and domination of the world, but to show - in the literal sense of the term - how they represented distant spaces and the people they sheltered. The period chosen, from around 1450 to 1950, will allow us to address these questions over a long period of time and to underline the depth of historical constructions by questioning the critical dimension of these representations.

The exhibition will particularly highlight documents (cartographic and iconographic) and actors from Lyon in order to underline the place of the city in international information networks over the centuries.