Global Subway Net, Digital print on paper, 48

Global Subway Net

Ilona Staples

A Space Windows

January 8 – February 13, 2010

The Global Subway Net is a hypothetical map of 140 of the world’s subway systems. The artist has assembled subway maps and scaled them in proportion to each other, resulting in a gamut of lines resembling organic natural formations. The stars indicate underground stations, while dotted lines indicate transit construction in progress as of 2009.

Modeled on historical and mythological astrological maps used by seafarers, the current map is envisaged as an imaginary navigational guide to the world of the underground.

Mundane, industrial, and emblematic of urban sprawl, rapid transit systems are expanding worldwide. Dirty, noisy and crowded though the railways may be, the human imagination is captured by the subterranean journey – hurtling through darkness; a chain of empty voids linking platforms of light; the crush of humanity, forced into intimate proximity yet alone and anonymous. At the same time, humanity’s drive and expenditure in burrowing under the earth is a kind of environmental violation: will there be a future price to pay for this subterranean activity?


Ilona Staples is a Toronto sculpture and installation artist. Her current work explores the breakdown of geopolitical boundaries caused by the forces of globalization. She is a graduate of Concordia University and the Ontario College of Art and Design and has exhibited in the USA, UK, Hungary and Canada.