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Marjolijn Dijkman: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum / MATRIX 234

September 26, 2010 - November 28, 2010

Marjolijn Dijkman: Abraham Ortelius’ Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, 1570; courtesy of the artist.

Marjolijn Dijkman: The World Information Centre, Dubai, 2007, from Theatrum Orbis Terrarum; ongoing photographic research 2005-2010; courtesy of the artist.

Download the exhibition brochure (PDF).

Theatrum Orbis Terrarum
is an ongoing photographic project initiated by Marjolijn Dijkman in 2005 and comprising more than 9,000 images. Its title refers to the first true modern atlas, the “Theater of the World,” published by Abraham Ortelius in 1570. Ortelius’s atlas, an early attempt at collecting the world in one volume of standardized maps, formed a summary of sixteenth-century cartography. At the time, it delimited an understanding of the known world (albeit framed by European imperialism and colonialism), giving form and shape to distant countries, illustrating similarities in urban planning, and visualizing connections between places across land and water. With limited tools of travel and measurement available, these early maps relied on equal parts fact and imagination; of course maps remain subjective, with the subtleties of inclusion and exclusion, and the choices of center and margin being not only practical, but also political and social.

Since the early twentieth century, as photography developed and cameras became increasingly portable, images have, in some ways, supplanted maps as a means of transmitting visual information about place, for understanding the terrain of foreign lands and the layout of distant cities. Of course, now websites like Google Earth and Flickr are made up of millions of such images, be they official or user-generated. Marjolijn Dijkman’s Theatrum Orbis Terrarum began similarly as an attempt to collect photographic evidence of the places she had traveled, to collect the world as she had seen it—evolving over time within an overarching framework of relationships between herself and the images; spaces and gestures; localities and displacements; and among past, present, and future.

Dijkman's archive of images is organized along three axes: Gestures, References, and Speculations; in aggregate it attempts to rethink existing representations of the world. Gestures shows the traces and effects of human intervention into the built and natural environments, relating verbs of action (Abandon, Botch, Camouflage, Declare, Embrace, for example) to images of public space. References engages notions of geographic and cultural displacement, depicting the ways in which architecture and urban planning often copy or co-opt foreign tropes. Speculations constructs an alternate timeline, organizing itself not through chronology, but by the eras and time periods speculated upon in the images themselves. As a means to engage publicly, the project presents itself in many iterations—through the physical exhibition, accompanying website, and a freely distributed newspaper.

Marjolijn Dijkman has exhibited her work at Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Mercosur Biennial, Porto Alegre, Brazil; Arnolfini, Bristol; MACBA, Barcelona; MuHKA, Antwerp; Bloomberg SPACE, London; Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn; De Appel, Amsterdam; Sharjah Biennial; and Van Abbemuseum, Eindoven. In 2005, with her partner Maarten Vanden Eynde, she founded the artist-run initiative, Enough Room for Space, which partners with sites and institutions around the world to initiate temporary projects that explore critical positions of art in society and create platforms for collaboration. She graduated from the Gerrit Rietveld Academy; did post-graduate work at the Piet Zwart Institute; and was a researcher at the Jan van Eyck Academie.

Elizabeth Thomas
Phyllis Wattis MATRIX Curator

The MATRIX Program at the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive is made possible by a generous endowment gift from Phyllis C. Wattis; The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; and the continued support of the BAM/PFA Trustees.