Nations Unleashed series, 2018-2019, works on paper, watercolor pencils on paper, Watercolor pencils on paper, 18 x 24 in
Nations Unleashed series is inspired by the historical tradition of satirical maps, employing animal symbolism and stereotypes to convey biting political critique and to cover up human actions in the political theater.
The human personification of continents and countries can be seen as early as the 13th century (on maps by Opicinus de Canestris), human and animal metaphors on maps reached a new level in Europe between 1845 and 1945 with political cartoon maps when political leaders were often caricaturised and European nations were given symbolic identities that lent humor and accessibility to the geographical map.
Nations Unleashed series is 14 watercolor pencils on paper drawings, delicately tones washes of blue surround loosely sketched populated by an array of diverse animals, each representing a critical political interest. Bliumis’ interpretations range from the literal – as in the American bald eagle – to the fanciful – as in a two-headed Scandinavian lion. What these maps lack in geographic accuracy is made up in thorough doses of imagination and humor, leaving further interpretation open to the viewer.
The series uses the satire and metaphor to comment on politics today and explores the popular political strategy of transferring blame from humans to animals using stereotypes and symbolism. It makes us aware of this rampant strategy of displacement, compelling us to critically reflect on the fine lines between fact and fiction of global geopolitics.