Berlin (DE)

Dierk Schmidt

*1965 in Unna, Germany

lives and works in Berlin, Germany

Schmidt practices a contextually understood concept of painting that starts with and communicates intensive research in the historical and above all “factual space.” One of his more recent picture series focuses on the Berlin Congo Conference in 1884/85 in Berlin from an international legal perspective; another series deals with the provenience and production of coloring agents of the colonial and early chemical industry. Dierk Schmidt is a member of the artistic-academic group Artefakte//anti-humboldt. He recently taught at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. Exhibitions: Image Leaks and Broken Windows 3.0(with Frank Bauer), Le Quartier, Centre d’art contemporain de Quimper, Quimper / France, 2014; IMAGE LEAKS – Zur Bildpolitik der Ressource, Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt a.M., 2011; SIEV-X – Zu einem Fall verschärfter Flüchtlingspolitik oder Géricault und die Konstruktion von Geschichte, Städel-Museum, Frankfurt a.M. 2009. Exhibition participations:Animism, OCAT, Ilmin Museum of Art, Seoul / South Korea 2014; documenta 12, Kassel 2007; Trienal du Luanda, Luanda (Angola) 2007.




In 1905, the Berlin painter Hans Looschen exhibited the triptych Altperuanische Gräberfundeat the Große Berliner Ausstellung. The “Berliner Tageblatt” wrote at the time: “The subject matter is quite harsh: mummies, skulls, masks, with colorful ornaments, grotesque and ghastly.” While grasped as a vanitas depiction, Looschen’s painting also documents the exhibition practice of the Königliche Völkerkundemuseum in Berlin: the display of mummies, which are today termed human remains. In Dierk Schmidt’s glass painting that deals with the triptych and its time of origin, periods overlap: In 1905, the German Empire waged war against the Herero and Nama in German Southwest Africa, in 2011, 20 skulls of colonial provenience were returned to Namibia (the former German Southwest Africa) at the Berliner Charité. As in Looschen’s painting, two skulls were presented in showcases on this occasion, upon the wish of the Namibian side. One part of Looschen’s triptych is today on view in the Alte Nationalgalerie under the genre of still life. The human remains, on the other hand, are stored in the depot of the Ethnological Museum, withdrawn from the public by the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz (Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation). So what does cultural heritage mean? This is a question that Schmidt pursues with Broken Windows 3.1. The miniature showcases correspond with the dimensions of the showcases of the Neues Museum in Berlin. They are meant to fulfill the museum’s promise of modernism: a thin, fragile framing of museum objects. Schmidt shows empty showcases with scratches and holes. The gaze is directed to the showcase itself and overlaps with the pictures on the wall. Exhibiting objects becomes an aggressive act of exposing unresolved possessions (looted art).