By Ellen Crofton, Second Year English
Ellen Crofton reviews the latest exhibition curated by The Island Gallery, 'an international art and peace project to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons signed by the nuclear-weapon states the USA, the Soviet Union and Great Britain in 1968.'
The Island recently opened Klaudia Dietewich’s exhibition 50 Cities 50 Traces in The Vestibules as part of an international peace project. Fifty photographs of fifty different ‘Mayors for Peace’ cities are displayed to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
While emphasising and celebrating peace across cities, the Stuttgart-based artist also tests the boundaries of photography using pigment on aluminium surfaces. Dietewich focuses on details, traces and fragments within a cityscape to produce abstract and sensitive art pieces. Throughout the exhibition I felt that there was a strong message: that peace is possible, that the fragments the artist depicts have survived conflict. Yet, these traces go unnoticed by us, and so there’s also the sense that destruction can be overlooked.
I was straightaway drawn into the abstract shapes, marks, textures and composition of colours. The work definitely stirs in us an automatic need to decode her artwork, and I found myself standing in front of the pieces for longer than I would expect. However, no matter how long you look at her work, the subject matter remains conceptual and subjective. In a way Dietewich recreates and restructures objects and images, enlarging the subtleties and ignored parts of cities, ones which she believes are ‘nonrepresentational‘ but which ‘reflect the condition of our world’.
The photograph (or art piece) taken in Bristol as one of the fifty cities, shows an unusual contrast of smooth and rough textures, with the gold central shape as an immediate focal point. There is something quite captivating about not being able to locate this shape – it becomes its own subject.
Alongside the artwork is a video with statements from the fifty Mayors participating in the project. Bristol’s own Mayor Marvin Rees gives his statement: ‘Cities are best placed to bring people together to confronting threats to peace and stability’. I think Dietewich’s work reflects that; by commemorating the 50th anniversary of the treaty, as well as placing fifty different pieces from fifty different countries next to one another, she exhibits a feeling of togetherness.
In terms of composition and curation, the art pieces worked effectively with each piece complementing the other. However, I think The Vestibules wasn’t an ideal exhibition space, as it was too spacious when I think the work required an intense environment. Still, I think this is an exhibition worth seeing – it tests and abstracts city life while also promoting peace within our cities.
Located in The Vestibules, 50 Cities 50 Traces is open weekdays, 12pm-6pm until February 28.
Featured Image: Ellen Crofton
Will you be seeing 50 Cities 50 Traces?