Born in 1961, New Bedford, Massachusetts, US
Lives and works in New York, US
Known for his complex installations inspired by the Wunderkammern as scientific laboratories, Mark Dion is particularly interested in man's relationship to nature through the construction of knowledge and scientific discourses in use since antiquity.
His projects are often strangely evocative of naturalist and archeological expeditions, sometimes even implicating the artist personally, who finds himself imitating the explorer, the biochemist, the detective or the archeologist in uniform or behavior.
What ensues are installations evocative of the cabinets of curiosity popular across Europe in the 16th century, but with quite different intentions. Mark Dion not only imitates but also subverts the penchant for classification: he appropriates methods, qualities and vocabularies in order to call both knowledge and the display of knowledge into question.
The humor and intentional absurdity of his works rapidly divulge the deep desire of the artist to confront the limits of scientific knowledge with Nature's reality.
Extract from Tableau noir, Natacha Pugnet, 2021 :
« Retour à l’école [Back to School], Mark Dion’s latest exhibition at the In Situ Fabienne Leclerc gallery, is focused on extinction and expresses a certain nostalgia. “Understanding how, when and why we have evolved toward societies whose relationship with the environment is suicidal,1” is what seems to be at stake. For an artist, how can our relationship to the natural world be questioned if not from the retrospective angle of its representations? The title sets the conceptual framework of works that miming old didactic models, probe their heuristic value. Dion has long been motivated by ecological questions, but the so urgent nature today of political decisions that should be made required a bit of updating. Intertwining past, present and future, arts and sciences, the marvelous and a rationalist approach, humor and darkness, the return to school proposed by Mark Dion proves falsely comfortable. The semblance of a bourgeois décor installed at the exhibition is part of a subtly unstable plan.»
1. Sarina Basta and Armelle Pradalier, "Entretien avec Mark Dion", Mark Dion, Extranaturel, Beaux-Arts de Paris éditions, 2016, p. 148.