Dirk Vorndamme | The world is Not Enough

"Likewise the earth will also die if they (people) continue like this. No question at all. That's why we have death here again. Man is so stupid, I'll say it now, like a cancer virus, that he destroys his own host and then dies. Because if the world is broken or the rainforest is gone, for example, then the little human is not far away or if the bees die, then the human species is not far away either. Good point. And the insects and bees are slowly dying. That is my subject.” (Dirk Vorndamme, 2021)
Dark, but unfortunately also true words, those of the artist Dirk Vorndamme in July of this year, during the interview for his exhibition. Humans do not seem to be able to live in harmony with the earth in a way that creates a symbiotic relationship that is beneficial to all living beings. Already in his two previous exhibitions, nine and eight years ago in the old OZM were to be seen in the Sternschanze Dirk Vorndamme felt the entire burdens attached to modern humanity. In an interview about his last exhibition Everything is ok baby! (2013) he said that the negative processes and processes that are caused by humans can no longer be turned into positive ones. And so far he's been right. Hardly any artist in the OZM conveys such a direct and clearly critically recognizable message with his/her art as Dirk does in his exhibition The world is Not Enough does. A number of neuralgic themes, such as racism, terror, greed, climate catastrophes, endless growth and the unequal distribution of resources and capital, run like red threads through the oeuvre of Dirk Vorndamme, who has been designing and creating billboards for 25 years. With his current work in OZM HAMMERBROOKLYN, which he began with the first sketches 1,5 years ago, he manages for the first time to show an all-encompassing statement that combines many of his themes in one view.
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The artist's largest work to date, measuring 2 x 2 meters, is located in a completely black-washed room. In the middle right in front of the entrance on the floor is a cross with the inscription: "RIP Mother Earth". Mama Terra is semiotically buried here. Behind it, as if it were floating, is the collage part of the art installation. Everything is skillfully and dramatically accented with light. The collaged piece of the work, which clearly presents the world and a crawling skeleton on it, is made of several layers of posters. The human skeleton in particular consists of several layers of paper in order to bring more depth and plasticity to the work.

For several years now, the poster has been the material from which Dirk Vorndammes art mainly consists and thus illustrates his love for this material. The artist finds these thick layers of posters, which always form the starting point of his works, on the street. Once he has found a suitable billboard and got it off the street, he thinks about the format the work should have, which motif he would like to use and then starts with a pencil sketch. He then paints, builds, stacks and tinkers the rest into a poster-wall picture. Due to the inherent surface structure of the posters with the bumps, they give each image a uniqueness. uses for his pictures Dirk Vorndamme the back of the posters, as they have a neutral and monochrome white or gray color and can therefore be processed better. On the other hand, the front pages announce past concerts, festivals, cultural events, meetings and much more. So they are not only the substances for the individual works of art, but also colorful testimonies from times past. For this reason they are mirrors of social conditions and important sources for understanding a certain time. Unfortunately, in the increasingly digitized world, posters are becoming increasingly rare, which is why the material is gradually disappearing from the streets; At least the too thick layers of posters glued on top of each other, some of which are already detaching from the substrate by themselves. Otherwise works Dirk Vorndamme gladly and quite classically with brush and paint. You can often still see the hatching of the brushstrokes in his work. He prefers bright colors such as turquoise, purple and pink and loves manual craftsmanship. For example, he does not use computer-based techniques.

The Dirk Vorndammes art mix exciting aspects. In the contextualized exhibition environment of the OZMs arises z. B. the following question: Are the artist's works to be attributed to street art or rather not? On the one hand he clearly uses a material (poster) that comes from the street. On the other hand, his works are neither created there nor exhibited in urban space. He's never done that before. However, through the use of the material poster, which is usually a sheet of paper or fabric printed with text and an image and conveys a message, Vorndamme's art refers to the public environment of the street, even if it can be seen inside an exhibition building is. Until the mass distribution of television (around 1970), the poster was one of the most important advertising media. Since then it has changed very little. Then as now, it is often printed in large numbers on paper, is large, colorful, conspicuous, contains images and text in the most meaningful arrangement possible and wants to communicate something. These components are in the collaged part of The world is Not Enough clear to see. Even if the format of the work is not the classic one of a poster, it is large and clearly visible. It is also colorful and contains both motifs and writing. Likewise, the statements conveyed by the work of art are clear and self-explanatory, even if they cannot be found at first glance. The artist (sender) cannot be XNUMX% sure whether his message will reach the individual visitor (recipient). Whether the work of Dirk Vorndamme assigned to street art cannot be clearly clarified. What is certain, however, is that he produces art in the style of street art.

"It's not easy with the negative. You have to deal with the negative. With the positive you just have to look.” (Dirk Vorndamme, 2013)

The way Vorndamme's motifs are designed is also interesting. They evoke a strong association with comics. Especially the skeleton, which is used again and again by the artist and runs through his entire work, is very striking. Draw skull and bones Dirk Vorndamme had been under his spell since his early youth and so he always painted the skeletons of people instead of their bodies. For the artist, the bone creature symbolizes the evil of mankind and shows that he is not concerned with creating "beautiful" and pleasing art. His intention is for the viewer to develop a frightening feeling. That's why he calls his art “Horror Pop Art”. A few parallels can definitely be drawn with the Pop Art movement. For example, some artists of this genre included the aesthetics of comics in their art or alienated comic strips into gridded giant panels like Roy Liechtenstein. But also billboards, advertising labels or packaging material and objects of everyday consumer and mass culture were integrated into the art as visual content. The objects were often removed from their original context and alienated. The artists sometimes used bright fluorescent colors that they took from the color palette of modern advertising. In addition to advertising techniques, the preferred artistic design principles of Pop Art also included photomontage and collage techniques. In their works, the artists of Pop Art dealt in particular with the purpose of life of modern man, emphasizing consumer goods and banal objects that are characterized by a trivial need for entertainment. Thus, in its interpretation of industrially determined culture, Pop Art expressed both admiration and criticism of modern consumer society. Some of the points listed can be Dirk Vorndammes works can also be found again. The greatest agreement can be found in the use of bright and luminous colors. But his style of painting can also be attributed to that of comics, even if he does not use grid dots. In addition, both the collaged part and the painted cross from The world is Not Enough a large format resembling that of a billboard. If you look at others Works of the artist, you can see that Dirk Vorndamme also likes to pick objects from everyday life and consumer goods from their respective known contexts in order to accentuate them and place them in new contexts. The focus of his art is clearly on modern man in the 21st century, and the way of life in industrialized countries in particular is critically examined.

The artist cordially invites the visitors to enter the installation, to move around the space, to walk around the sculptural part of the work, to touch it carefully and to look for the written words. It's not a pleasant subject Dirk Vorndamme with his work of art OZM HAMMERBROOKLYN treated. But the artist's primary concern isn't to teach people otherwise. First and foremost, he wants to get rid of his own demons and fears. He thinks it's beautiful when people change through his art, but that's not the first thought he has when making his works. But the exhibition, which the artist sees as a pictorial representative of the “Fridays for Future” movement, is a definite reminder. Art is able to touch people in a different way than the usual political discourse in newspaper articles, commentaries or television, for example, does. If necessary, the emotional power of an image proves to be stronger than the intellectual default of the viewer. Art has an impact on how certain things are viewed. That makes them unique. For Dirk Vorndammewho has their own point of view and expresses it publicly, art is a great tool to present it. And finally, one should not forget that laws are man-made. In other words, they are imperfect and subject to change.

art special (art magazine): Street Art, Hamburg, 2014.
Benke Carlsson/Hop Louie: URBAN ART CORE - Instructions for street art activists, Munich 2014.
Eva Howarth: "Pop Art", in: Eva Howarth (ed.): Art history - painting from the Middle Ages to pop art, Cologne 1993, pp. 236-238.