Mute Maps


July 2015


(Novara, MapaMudo by Luis Carmelo)

The cities drawn by Luis Carmelo, a Portuguese writer with several books published and founder of the online creative writing school EC.ON, began by being a humble mode to reinvent his own pace. Using mostly ballpoint pens on paper, each city map is done as a meticulous lines and dots' ‘crochet’, some growing into long, complex and detailed unfold pages. Along more than three decades, specifically since December 1982 when the first traces were made on Zandvoort beach, in Amsterdam surroundings, these cities reveal an intimate fictional geography that co-exists and connects with literature, with visual poetry, with performance and with other inventive paths and reflective modes used by the author. Since then, there are now 227 cities in 25 countries, with their own names and dimensions.

In fact, these cities by Luis Carmelo, collect in the MapaMudo (MuteMap) website, were always privately drawn without any goal or strategy. Along his creative process, these hundreds of cities never engaged in the faintest temptation to be shown and to be referential. In other words, none of the cities ever imitated a ‘real’ city. In addition, in these maps there are neither symbols nor indexes, nor they aspire to be diagrams or metaphors to any given city.

In spite of all these, it is possible to wonder if these ‘mute maps’ present us imaginary yet possible cities – and countries and islands - or nothing but figures that somehow evoke topographic patterns and plasticities. Or maybe they can be seen as writing modes, as absolute and precise geo-graphies. In any sense, these ‘mute maps’ contain and trigger the possibility for an intrigue of their own, for imaginary walks, urban adventures and whimsical stories within and between their intricate drawings, questioning and opening to continuous paths and conjectures.


Susana Oliveira