In discussing the erroneous logic of notions of global centrality, the Nigerian poet Ben Okri gives the exhibition its title, explaining, “In arrogating to themselves the center of the world, when in fact the center is everywhere, contemporary victors are speaking to the universe on behalf of everyone, and speaking badly.” Like Okri, Gros uses art as a vehicle through which to radically shift perceptions of geographical hierarchy. Through artworks such as "Approximately 199," "The Geography of Love" and "Human Strokes," the artist urges her viewers to consider both the dominant effect of geographic determinants on shaping our reality and the ultimately arbitrary nature of human designated borders. Throughout her exhibition, Gros seeks to make visible all members of a community, irrespective of social privilege.
"Approximately 199" is a multi-tentacled project that first manifested in the form of a 200-day performance. Today, it lives on through video, working sketchbooks, T-shirts and prints. For this piece, Gros explored the seemingly simple question of how many countries there are in the world. The complexity of this issue is revealed as the bureaucratic red tape of what is considered sovereign state recognition takes hold. As the number of recognized countries shifts with each democratic body taking count, Gros resigns the number to remain an approximate.
The number 199 corresponds to countries in existence that have the ability to issue passports. In 2017, to honor each of these countries, Gros spent 200 days of the year wearing T-shirts, each of which displayed the silhouette of a country, with one T-shirt left blank to represent stateless people. These T-shirts are on display in the exhibition as a record of the performance, along with a video recording that documents a shot from each day the artwork was enacted. To extend the life of this piece , Gros commemorated each country with a display of her working sketchbooks along with a frieze of prints of each state, each enclosed in a frame, a border that reaffirms the boundaries of these random separations across our global planes.
Also on display is the site-specific artwork "Everyone (Savannah)," in which a semi-translucent scroll hangs loosely from the gallery ceiling. Embedded in this fabric are 155,109 ink dots, each made to signify a Savannah resident.