A decade-long cornerstone of Dijkman’s practice, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (2005-2015) comprises a collection of photographs that observe how people organize their living environments around the world. As with many of the artist’s works, the title is telling: it references the first modern atlas compiled by Abraham Ortelius in 1570, anchoring the piece within a specific cultural and scientific history. Dijkman’s Theatrum Orbis Terrarum is not however an atlas of landscapes and territories, but an atlas of the ways in which humans relate to the world they inhabit. The focus on the relational is made apparent through the idiosyncratic scheme of categorization: all typical context-specific data that would allow us to understand the photograph in time and space is omitted. Instead, the cataloging system is organized according to human actions – ‘adapt,’ ‘control,’ ‘demarcate,’ ‘embrace,’ ‘honour,’ ‘profit,’ ‘speculate’ – effectively reducing anything referenced to a product or result of human intervention.
Karen Verschooren, written for the catalog accompanying the exhibition ‘Navigating Polarities’ at NOME, 2018