Maps both blind and unveil. Authors of maps make choices about what to include and ignore, about how to code and what to represent. Conventions strengthen the mapmaker’s claim that “this is here.”  Meanwhile, in the midst of rapid urbanization, planning maps continue to privilege built form and are typically created for an idealized public with assumed spatial practices.

Sidewalk City presents immersive, digital narrative maps that uncover a wider public of ordinary people and their negotiation of public space. Sidewalks are perhaps the city's most important and most overlooked public space. Ubiquitous, narrow, and networked, sidewalks have the potential to bring people together and contribute to a humane and civic society. Based on 15 years of fieldwork and research in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, this exhibit presents the latest experimental maps developed by the research group, SLAB, directed by MIT Associate Professor Annette M. Kim.

After MIT, the show will travel to Ho Chi Minh City’s main exhibition space in order to see how art interacts with public debates about the legitimacy of street vendors in a non-participatory urban planning system. The traveling exhibit will be accompanied by a book published by the University of Chicago Press that further elaborates the possibilities of using critical cartography for spatial analysis and public engagement.