Marjolijn Dijkman: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum

30 Apr 2011 – 26 Jun 2011

Spike Island

Bristol, United Kingdom


Travel Information

  • 506 via Temple Meads
  • Bristol Temple Meads

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Spike Island presents the largest UK solo exhibition by Dutch artist Marjolijn Dijkman to date. The exhibition features archival works, video and animation, plus a series of related events. At the heart of the exhibition lies Dijkman's ongoing archive Theatrum Orbis Terrarum. Begun in 2005, initially as part of the artist's research, this continually-expanding collection of over 9000 digital images from all over the world is now presented as a work in its own right. Drawing inspiration from Abraham Ortelius' Theatre of the World (1570), the first atlas, the collected images amount to a kind of anthropological survey, playfully illustrating similarities in efforts to forge our environment all over the world. Ultimately, the archive betrays universal human systems of thought and activity, defined and classified under three main headings: ‘Gestures', ‘References', and ‘Speculations'. Dijkman's other works employ similarly taxonomic approaches. Wandering through the Future (2007) is a video comprised of excerpts from seventy feature films set in the near to distant future. In chronological sequence of represented time, from 2008 to 802,701 AD, scene after scene of bleak landscapes, dystopian cities, viruses and monsters fill the screen. Imaginative projection is also key to Wandering Around (2008), a mass of images drawn by the artist from computer games, movies and early travel photography, each showing a single person, viewed from behind, surveying the landscape in the vein of Caspar David Friedrich. Blue Marble (2008) animates the famous image of earth taken in 1972 by the crew of the Apollo 17 spacecraft, by editing together thousands of appropriations of it by the likes of film distributors, global corporations, tourist groups, charities and ecological campaigns. LUNà â€ž (2010), a new work commissioned for the exhibition, pays homage to Birmingham's Lunar Society, an informal social grouping of eighteenth century men that included physician Erasmus Darwin, entrepreneur Matthew Boulton, engineer James Watt, philosopher and scientist Joseph Priestley and the potter and social reformer Josiah Wedgwood, leading figures of the Enlightenment who shared a passion for exploration, knowledge, collecting and the possibility of progress. With the benefit of hindsight, a critical edge and knowing humour, Dijkman has made a flat pack reconstruction of the original table around which these men would debate ideas each month. Visitors are encouraged to use it for their own ‘Lunar' meetings, while the artist has curated a series of talks that revisit some of the concerns of the original Lunar men from a contemporary perspective.


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