Mark Dion examines the ways in which dominant ideologies and public institutions shape our understanding of history, knowledge, and the natural world. Appropriating archaeological and other scientific methods of collecting, ordering, and exhibiting objects, he creates works that question the distinctions between “objective” (“rational”) scientific methods and “subjective” (“irrational”) influences.
As part of the conceptual development of his project at the Oakland Museum of California, Dion used a FOR-SITE residency to familiarize himself with the natural and social history of California. The exhibition consisted of multiple site-specific installations in the museum’s art galleries. It amounted to an imaginative expedition through the museum’s collections, drawing on overlooked orphans, curiosities, and surprising treasures.
- Installation Views
Mark Dion is known for incorporating elements of biology, archaeology, ethnography, and the history of science into his work. Traveling the world and collaborating with scientists, artists, and museums, Dion has excavated artifacts from the banks of the Thames River in London, established a marine life laboratory using specimens from New York City’s Chinatown, and created a contemporary cabinet of curiosities exploring natural and philosophical hierarchies. His work has been presented internationally at major museums.