The exhibition by Dierk Schmidt combines recent work and thematically related older pieces to create a focal image of contemporary economic-political relationships. A core question explored in Schmidts practice is how artistic images can address everyday political events and their historical legacy.
Schmidt explores the possibilities of critical painting in series of images. Above and beyond the simple depiction of historical events, he is interested in an expanded definition of historical painting, i.e. a constant tracking of historical references in the present. He does not consider his painting as the depiction or mere reflection of social constellations but as a medium that serves as a point of argument with the potential to reveal conflicting interests.
The starting point for many of Schmidts projects is the attentive observation of the economic conditions of artistic production before the backdrop of broader economic and political interrelationships. He focuses on the production of images and the accompanying image politics of governments, multinational companies, or media conglomerates, which he views as the successors to the past centurys forms of state representation. Schmidt analyzes these relationships by proposing a competitive situationwhich does not exist in social realitybetween economic-political and artistic representation.
One example is the work Questionnaire to H. von Pierer, which criticized polito-economic maneuvers of the Siemens AG. The company assumed the role of sponsor and initiator of an exhibition intended as a liberal gesture, which would subsume political painting under the companys cultural PR campaign. Formal concerns already played a crucial role in this project of the year 1998: the artist substituted functional materials such as transparent films for conventional, archival image carriers.
The new title work of the exhibition at Frankfurter Kunstverein
IMAGE LEAKS On the Image Politics of Resources, which was specially conceived and produced by Dierk Schmidt for this occasion, raises the questions if and how artistic image strategies can be used to counter the kind of image politics pursued by the multinational oil company BP after the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The company attempted to control public perception of the extent of the contamination caused by the oil leak to such an extent that all campaigns against the situation were forced to use the same image resources. In his analysis Schmidt is sure that the comparative, analytical representations of various competing image campaignsthat of BP, the oil companys opponents, and also the US governmentultimately interfere with the brand washing of BP.
Dierk Schmidt was born in 1965 in Unna in Westphalia and currently lives and works in Berlin. After studying at the Düsseldorf Art Academy, he then studied 1996-97 at the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten in Amsterdam. The artist has had solo exhibitions at the Gesellschaft für aktuelle Kunst, Bremen (2004) and the Salzburger Kunstverein (2005). His work has been shown in group exhibitions at Witte de With, Rotterdam (2005), the Hamburger Kunstverein (2007), Kunsthaus Dresden (2009), the third Berlin Biennale (2003), documenta 12 (2007), the Trienal de Luanda (2007) and the first Brussels Biennial (2008), among others.