Dierk Schmidt grasps his works as a medium of political examination and as a way to reveal historical conflicts of interest. He deals with the artistic genre of historical painting and the political lines of tradition in modern painting.
In the work series, "The Division of the Earth", the first part of which he began in 2005 at the Salzburger Kunstverein and continued in 2007 at the documenta, Dierk Schmidt approaches the historical complex by developing pictorial semiotics whose sources lie in the traditions of both diagrammatic-statistical and cartographic representation, and modern abstract painting. Against this background, Schmidt seeks to combine various types and degrees of abstraction in law, politics and art to form an aesthetic complex.
"The current exhibition, 'From: The Division of the Earth", features a collection of Dierk Schmidt's drawings, studies, materials, and tableaux, in which one encounters layouts and plans permeated by abstract marks and traces. Using these markings, he conveys how politics is performed by occupying spaces, both as occupation and resistance.
In conceptual terms, the series starts with the so-called Congo Conference in Berlin (or Berlin Africa Conference) in 1884/85 - based on orange tableaux depicting the ground plan of the Kronprinzenpalais and a map of the Congo Basin, on which the occupying nations are indicated. The end of the series, for the time being, is a panel dedicated to the action filed against the German Federal Government and three German companies in 2001. This action for reparations was filed by the Hereros for the genocide against them in then South-West Africa. The shown sequence of steps, as constitutive elements of the respective tableaux, is derived from the Oturupa movement that in the form of autonomy asserts the status they possessed prior to the Herero-German war. Each year, they commemorate the genocide and the rights of the Hereros. Through his abstract approach to the history of colonialism and its consequences, Dierk Schmidt directly confronts conference and map, as well as legal action and ceremonies.
In the drawings, one can recognize how Schmidt deals with these historical sites; they make the process of reduction comprehensible, with which a complex subject matter and a history spanning more than 120 years is acuminated to the matter of a court hearing: the colonial marking and thus expropriation of spaces that are countered by a different production of space: the sequences of steps of the Oturupa's march across the ceremonial grounds, the circular traces of the involved horsemen, as well as the "legal steps" that with literal footprints visualize the course of the filed action. At the same time, they put international law in the confrontation with its own "colonial" past (e.g., the General Act of the Berlin Africa Conference) up for negotiation. With this series, Dierk Schmidt lends these markings and demands their own space - that of the pictures and the exhibition. They thus stand in contrast to the position of the German government, which has until now not followed up on its apology in 2004, expressed on the occasion of 100th anniversary of the genocide, in an attempt to prevent any kind of legal consequences. 'The position of the German Federal government is known, it has not changed,' Hubert Jäger, the spokesman of the Foreign Office stated as late as 2008. As an own, specific marking of a space, the pictures contribute to upholding the demands." (Susanne Leeb)