Ikon presents the first UK solo exhibition of work by Dutch artist Marjolijn Dijkman. Archival works, video, animation and sculpture all feature alongside an installation inspired by Birmingham’s unique heritage.
Dijkman’s Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (2005–ongoing) forms the heart of the exhibition. Referencing Abraham Ortelius’ Theatre of the World (1570), thought to be the first atlas, it is an ambitious archive seeking to map the planet through thousands of digital images. These are classified into three groups: Gestures, depicting human intervention in the natural world; References, which geographically translate architectural and design language from other locations; and Speculations, recreations of other times, past and future. Theatrum Orbis Terrarum is a kind of anthropological survey, playfully revealing basic behavioural similarities around the world and universal human systems of thought and values.
Popular imagery informs two further works. In Wondering Around (2008) Dijkman brings together images from computer games, movies and early travel photography, each showing a single person from behind, a lone wanderer overlooking an unfamiliar landscape. In animation Blue Marble (2008) the artist explores the phenomenon of ideas slipping across time and space. A photograph of Earth, taken in 1972 by the crew of Apollo 17, has been appropriated by countless logos and symbols to represent multiple organisations, activities and political, social or environmental causes. Blue Marble shows 1500 such manipulations of this iconic picture, its usage being so widespread as to make it almost severed from its source.
LUNÄ (2010), is Dijkman’s homage to the Lunar Society, an illustrious group of thinkers and industrialists who epitomised the eighteenth century Enlightenment, including James Watt, Josiah Wedgwood, Joseph Priestley and Erasmus Darwin. These men met often at Soho House, the Birmingham home of Matthew Boulton, to share their enthusiasm for exploration, knowledge, collecting and the possibility of progress, all themes that correspond closely to Dijkman’s artistic principles. Visitors to Ikon are encouraged to have their own ‘Lunar’ meetings around LUNÄ, a facsimile of the dining table at Soho House — to think more experimentally towards a better future.
A catalogue, co-published by Ikon and Spike Island accompanies the exhibition, priced £19.95.
This exhibition is organised in collaboration with Spike Island, Bristol.