Skylight Gallery. Atlas
One of the most interesting books in this gallery is The Conquest of Space. Atlas for the use of artists and the military. The last one ever produced by Broodthaers, this miniature book measures thirty-eight by twenty-five millimetres and contains silhouettes of thirty-two randomly chosen countries in alphabetical order, from Andorra to Zaire. All silhouettes are approximately the same size and do not reflect the real differences between the sizes of the countries. According to the acclaimed critic and art historian Benjamin Buchloh, as early as in 1976, Broodthaers offered an ironic critique of globalist and internationalist discourse that would become mainstream in Western thought and culture in the 1980s. In his book, published several years before the utopia of a global culture fully took shape, Broodthaers pointed to its impossibility and its faults that arose from ignoring the differences in financial, infrastructural, communication, and other resources available to different countries. A decade and a half later, the ideals of globalisation and multiculturalism were indeed in crisis and crumbled.
The choice of medium is also interesting. In the mid-1970s—the time of minimalism, conceptualism, and land art in the USA—a miniature book with thirty-two silhouettes seemed an anachronism. Its strangeness and irrelevance meant it was free to exist outside of the narratives of museums, collectors, and art dealers.