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UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive Presents Marjolijn Dijkman : Theatrum Orbis Terrarum / MATRIX 234

The University of California, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) presents Marjolijn Dijkman: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum/MATRIX 234. On view through November 28, 2010.

Theatrum Orbis Terrarum is an ongoing photographic archive of more than 9,000 images, which attempts to rethink existing representations of our physical world. Initiated in 2005, Dijkman’s project takes its name from the first modern atlas, Abraham Ortelius’s 1570 publication the “Theater of the World.” Relying on equal parts fact and imagination, Ortelius’s atlas gave form and shape to distant countries, illustrated similarities in urban planning, and provided a visual interpretation of connections between places across land and water. Dijkman’s atlas of images, comprised in this MATRIX exhibition as well as on her website and in several publications, makes those aesthetic, political, and social choices inherent in our depictions of our world explicit.

Marjolijn Dijkman: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, ongoing photographic research 2005-2010; courtesy of the artist.

Dijkman posits Theatrum not only as an atlas, but as a collection and archive—through images of places and situations in the built and natural environments, she evinces the impulse to accumulate and catalogue, represent and understand, relate and individuate across the world. Photographs are the mode most indexical to reality, as representations of it rather than descriptions or interpretations of it. They are the primary means through which humans offer evidence and documentation, but they are similarly arbitrary (framing includes some features to the exclusion of others; lighting conveys mood and emotion, for example).

Entering the MATRIX exhibition, the viewer will be surrounded by panorama of about 300 physical images displayed along the walls. This field of images is contrasted with a rear installation of thousands of projected images, organized as a rapid slideshow, each sequence of images introduced with a textual reference of action (Abandon, Botch, Camouflage, Declare, Embrace, for example). Both installations create movements or chapters by linking individual images, the former by a relational visual logic and the latter through specific association of language and image.

As a means to engage publicly, Theatrum also presents itself in a free newsprint publication that introduces the project and considers other points of reference in cartographic, archival, and artistic projects historically, and in the present. In total the project is the artist’s attempt to “gain insight into the way in which the world is organized” both by attempting to collect and present a multivalent image of the world through photograph and text, and by using different modes of classification and organization to question the possibility and impossibility of understanding the world through such means.

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.

This exhibition is curated by Phyllis Wattis MATRIX Curator Elizabeth Thomas.

The mission of the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive is to inspire the imagination and ignite critical dialogue through art and film.

The UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive is the visual arts center of the University of California, Berkeley. Through art and film programs, collections and research resources, we aspire to be locally connected and globally relevant, engaging audiences from the campus, community, and beyond.

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