Mark Dion

Mark Dion at Museum Het Domein

This post comes to you from Cultura21

museum-het-domeinThe Macabre Treasury

January 20–May 5, 2013 – Museum Het Domein – Sittard, Netherlands

“Increasingly, my work has become macabre and laced with dusky pessimism. Early on I believed that ecological calamity could be averted by awareness. If people knew about issues like the loss of biodiversity or global warming, they would act so as to halt the problem. (…) Now, I just don’t believe that it will all work out. Not that there will be a single great catastrophe, but rather the world will slowly become less biological diverse, more impoverished, an uglier, less remarkable place to live. (…) Ozone holes, burning rainforests, ecological wars, species extinction, landfill landscapes will become fantastic theatre, a spectacle of ecosystem collapse. (…) Coming soon—the planet earth becoming a crummier place, and like numerous other rude spectators, it’s hard for me to keep my mouth closed during the show.”
–Mark Dion, unpublished manuscript, 2001

Macabre Treasury an exhibition by the American artist Mark Dion, internationally acclaimed to be a prominent contemporary artist, is Dion´s first solo museum exhibition in the Netherlands since fifteen years. He is playing a pioneering role with his work, which focuses on ecological issues and our perception of nature. Dion’s work examines the ways in which dominant ideologies and public institutions like museums shape our understanding of history, the ways we accumulate knowledge, and how we regard the natural world. Appropriating archaeological and other scientific methods of collecting, ordering, and exhibiting objects, Dion creates works that question the distinctions between “objective” (“rational”) scientific methods and “subjective” (“irrational”) influences. The artist’s spectacular and often fantastical curiosity cabinets, modeled on Wunderkabinetts of the sixteenth century, are notable for their atypical orderings of objects and specimens. By locating the roots of environmental politics and public policy in the construction of knowledge about nature, Mark Dion questions the authoritative role of the scientific voice in contemporary society.

For The Macabre Treasury, Dion will transform Museum Het Domein’s contemporary art wing into a giant Wunderkabinett. The exhibition will be divided into various departments of a fictional museum. Dion’s macabre treasure chamber will thus include amongst others Departments of Zoology and Archeology, a Bureau of Museums and the Culture of Collections, a Hunting Salon, aCinematheque and a Cabinet of Mystery. As part of the exhibition of his own work, the artist will present a selection of objects from Museum Het Domein’s historical collection and from other local museums and archives. The objects vary from local archeological findings to an eleventh-century tree-trunk coffin with a female skeleton. As is the case with all of Dion’s presentations, the exhibition in Het Domein can be considered an attempt to restore something of our earlier notion of the universal museum with its hybrid combinations of different disciplines and fields of knowledge. Newly inciting the curiosity of the museum-goer is just as essential. The artist once proclaimed that museums should be restored to their roles as “powder kegs of the imagination.”

For more information and visuals, visit the museums homepage.

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Adaptation: Between Species / e-flux

Allora & Calzadilla, Francis Alÿs, Cory Arcangel, John Bock, Olaf Breuning, Marcus Coates, Robyn Cumming, Mark Dion, FASTWÜRMS, Shaun Gladwell, Lucy Gunning, Nina Katchadourian, Louise Lawler, Hanna Liden, Hew Locke, Sandra Meigs, Rivane Neuenschwander and Cao Guimarães, Jeff Sonhouse, Javier Téllez , Michelle Williams Gamaker

Curator: Helena Reckitt, Senior Curator of Programs

Civilization notwithstanding, we live with and among nature and animals. Cultural followers such as pigeons, rats, foxes, and – in Canada – bears, live off our refuse, while bacteria reside in our guts. The industrial world eats further into natural habitats, but micro-environments flourish in urban and exurban sites. Responding to the contemporary desire to go “back to nature,” The Power Plant’s summer group exhibition ‘Adaptation: Between Species’ explores interspecies encounters. What happens when humans, animals and the natural world meet? What forms of communication, miscommunication, intimacy, and exchange ensue?

While species live in ever closer proximity, many people feel profoundly cut off both from natural environments and from their own animal natures. Our deep longing to connect with non-human life forms is reflected in contemporary phenomena ranging from the boom in pet ownership and the widespread anthropomorphism in popular culture to the upsurge in vacations that promise to transport us to unspoiled lands.

However, despite this deep-seated sense of alienation from nature, the species are in fact closely related. For instance, as Donna Haraway notes in her book When Species Meet, 90 percent of human cells are filled with the genomes of bacteria, fungi, protists, and such, with only 10 percent comprising human genomes. ‘Adaptation’ explores this commonality between the species and considers the various forms of intelligence and knowledge they share. It also asks what our interactions with other species reveal about our human as well as our animal natures. Highlighting the urge to observe, touch, live with, and mimic other species, the exhibition delves into the intimate and, at times, uncanny fusions that result. Many of the artworks hover between seriousness and absurdity, embracing the potential for fantasy, childish antics and regression at the core of human/non-human relations, and reveling in the transgression of both social acceptability and human identity that interspecies encounters can engender.

Coinciding with the United Nations International Year of Biodiversity, the exhibition considers how adaptation functions as a form of biological and cultural survival. It also takes a realistic view of human/non-human dynamics, acknowledging the unbalanced and exploitative power relations that too often characterize our society’s attitudes toward other life forms.

What do we learn by sharing our lives and this planet with other species? Impersonating and identifying with the natural world and the animal kingdom might contain the seeds for radical change, as we affirm our links with other species, recognize our animal natures and experience the liberation of feeling wild at heart.

A publication together with an extensive program of public events accompanies the exhibition. Highlights include a DJ Set and SKRY-POD public tarot reading by Ontario artists FASTWÜRMS, a film screening ‘Animal Drag Kingdom’ with works by Guy Ben-Ner, Douglas Gordon, Kathy High, Kristin Lucas, and Steve Reinke and Jessie Mott, a children’s workshop on animal language, and free gallery tours every weekend at 2pm.

SUPPORT DONOR: The Jack Weinbaum Family Foundation

The Power Plant offers free gallery admission all summer thanks to the support of the Hal Jackman Foundation and Media Partner NOW Magazine.

via Adaptation: Between Species / e-flux.

Current and upcoming eco art shows

{Fallen Forest, 2006, by Henrik Håkansson, soon to be on view at the Barbican in London.}

More eco shows just keep popping up. Here’s two that I’ve heard about recently. Unfortunately, neither museum has particularly interactive websites for these shows.

Trouble in Paradise: Examining Discord between Nature and Society
February 28, 2009 – June 28, 2009
Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson, AZ

Blurb:

Artists are looking at the beauty and the terror in the forces of nature through their honest and emotional portrayals, while sending urgent messages to pay attention to the ravages society inflicts on the land through war and waste. This exhibition will examine a range of art in a variety of media that addresses extreme forces of nature in two basic categories: nature-based discord, such as lightning, tornadoes, volcanoes, hurricanes, and fire; and human-caused environmental discord such as pollution, over-population, global warming, oil field fires, atomic fallout, and destruction of land. The debate about how much of nature’s wrath is the result of human impact and interference is ongoing, but questions are posed through stunning visuals about the seemingly unstoppable cycle of cause and effect. 

Artists:
Edward Burtynsky, Richard Misrach, William T. Wiley, Mark Dion, Joel Peter Witkin and about 50 more artists. Complete list here. (PDF)

Show website

Radical Nature Art and Architecture for a Changing Planet 1969–2009
19 June 2009 – 18 October 2009
Barbican Art Gallery, London

Blurb

The beauty and wonder of nature have provided inspiration for artists and architects for centuries. Since the 1960s, the increasingly evident degradation of the natural world and the effects of climate change have brought a new urgency to their responses. Radical Nature is the first exhibition to bring together key figures across different generations who have created utopian works and inspiring solutions for our ever-changing planet. 

Artists:
Ant Farm, Richard Buckminster Fuller, Joseph Beuys, Agnes Denes, Hans Haacke and Robert Smithson are shown alongside a younger generation of practitioners including Heather and Ivan Morison, R&Sie (n), Philippe Rahm and Simon Starling.

Show website

Go to Eco Art Blog