Every society accumulates contradictions amidst their ideals. Dietrich Wegner employs those contradictions, situating opposites together in sculpture and photography that feed on the friction between two conflicting ideas. When an image stands in limbo, between associations, it occupies a flexible place in our mind. Wegner creates images that are safe and unsettling, abject and beautiful. Some of his work shows us how a mushroom cloud can resemble a tree house, an anus a vortex, a suicide bomber a vulnerable human being, all in an effort to explore our varied states of contentment and security. In other works, such as in Cumulous Brand, babies are covered in multicolored tattoos in a meditation on how our identities evolve and how we declare them.
Often Wegner chooses materials that contradict an aspect of an image while striving towards a realistic depiction of the image. A mushroom cloud is fluffy like synthetic cotton, yet a Poly-fil mushroom cloud becomes fun and cozy. A blood splat (such as in Red Field) is shiny and exciting, yet perhaps signifying something not so fun. Both a Poly-fil playhouse and a urethane blood splat are examples of material reflecting what an image looks like and contradicting the tone of what a subject feels like or “means”. Sometimes the material choice does not both challenge and support an image; the material may simply do one or the other. In these cases, when the material does little contradicting, the image(s) itself must create the limbo.
The ephemeral beauty of a mushroom cloud is frightening, how it floats for a minute, delicate and blooming, yet remains chaotic and utterly destructive. We experience a contradiction between what our eyes enjoy and what our mind knows. It is this conflicted experience Dietrich Wegner’s work strives to evoke in a viewer in order that we will have a sparked curiosity and unstable assumptions.