A public garden & cultural center

Mark Dion

Recapturing the Scenic Wilds
Glyndor Gallery | September 06 - December 07, 2014


Pictured above: Provisions & Equipment—Clark Expedition (detail), 2012, Papier-mâché, Dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery. Photo credit Stefan Hagen


For this exhibition, Mark Dion presents a tableau from the project Phantoms of the Clark Expedition, which reinterprets a famous 1908 specimen-gathering expedition in Central Asia and Northern China. Dion preserves the trip’s necessities—ephemera like boots, bottles and binoculars—instead of the flora and fauna that the funder, Sterling Clark, or lead naturalist, Arthur Sowerby, might have prized. The tactility of papier-mâché suggests a hobbyist’s pleasure rather than a scientist’s rigor, while the bonelike color endows the sculptures with a deathly, memorial quality. It is as if the natural historian has himself become a specimen.

This work is characteristic of Dion’s approach to the collection, organization and exhibition of objects, and his challenge to viewers to consider always how history is produced and by whom. Using the vernacular of archaeological and scientific methods, he draws attention away from the specimens gathered and toward the institutions doing the gathering. By honing in on specific collections, he lends practical heft to his theoretical idea: that scientific knowledge is always informed by social conditions and aesthetic experience.

Throughout the past two decades, Dion’s work has been the subject of major exhibitions worldwide. Notable solo exhibitions have taken place at Museum Het Domein, Sittard, The Netherlands; Nouveau Musée National de Monaco; Oakland Museum of California; The Natural History Museum, London; Miami Art Museum; the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; and the Tate Gallery, London. He has received numerous awards, including the Larry Aldrich Foundation Award and the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Lucida Art Award. Dion earned a BFA and an honorary doctorate from the University of Hartford School of Art. He also studied at the School of Visual Arts, and participated in the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study Program.

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Pictured above: Provisions & Equipment—Clark Expedition2012, Papier-mâché, Dimensions variable. Courtesy of the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery. Photo credit Stefan Hagen

The Arts at Wave Hill are supported by the Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc.; Michael J. Shannon; Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation; the National Endowment for the Arts; New York City Department of Cultural Affairs; New York Community Trust Edward and Sally Van Lier Fund; New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; The Pollock-Krasner Foundation; The Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation; and by the Cathy and Stephen Weinroth Commissioning Fund for the Arts.