Patti Smith: Just Kids – mind mapping a cultural universe

Some years ago Patti Smith published her autobiographical book „Just Kids“. It is an overwhelming introspective into the years in which she and Robert Mapplethorpe formed their arts and careers. The book is such a rich resource of artists, art, places, and much more that I decided to visualise it. Several interactive and conjoined mindmaps make the formidable network of Patti Smith’s cultural and personal references visible. Each name is linked to further information, giving the courious the opportunity to learn more.

When I read Patti Smith’s book „Just Kids“ a couple years ago for the first time I was proppelled into the time of my youth. There were all the names of my musical heroes – Janis Joplin, Joan Baez, Jimi Hendrix, Lou Reed, Johnny Winter, Bruce Springsteen to name a few, and although some of them had already died before I actually became a conscious being, the power of their personalities and music still resonated at the end of the seventies and throughout the eighties. And this wonderful resonation came back to me through Patti Smith’s memories. She focuses in her book on the first couple years she and Robert Mapplethorpe spent together in New York City. They both were looking out for their respective path as artists, and doing this together has resulted in a very prolific time.

Young, cute, and hungry

When Patti and Robert met they were young, inexperienced, cute (as the photos in the book suggest), and always hungry, both literally and figuratively. It is touching and inspiring to read about how they shared their experiences with work and art, how they struggled, sometimes failed, but always went on on their artistic quest. We meet them at the Hotel Chelsea where so many famous people shared the hotel’s roof with Patti and Robert that naming them would make this article way too long. We accompany them when at Max’s Kansas City, where Andy Warhol’s entourage used to meet at night. We sit in the audience when Patti Smith performs her poems publicly for the first time.

Because events, persons, and places named in the book are so numerous I made a number of interactive and connected mindmaps. They visualise the vast network of cultural references and personal connections of Patti Smith. Furthermore, every node on each mindmap offers a link to more information. If you want to know more e.g. about the Fillmore East or Neil Young or John Lennon#s and Yoko Ono’s Christmas Billboard in 1969, you can simply click on the provided link and read on.

Mind Maps
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