Theatre of the Natural World
By Mark Dion
Publisher: Whitechapel Gallery
Product Size: 8.5 x 1 x 10.2 inches
Since the late 1980s Dion has been delving into the tropes and research methods of scientists, explorers, museum curators and archaeologists. He has created a body of work that playfully presents art as scientific inquiry or field work, questioning how knowledge is gathered, classified and displayed.
The five installations documented here incorporate diverse subjects: a scholar’s study invites us to unravel intricate drawings and models; a curator’s office displays the strange magic of obsolete things; the muddy banks of the Thames have also yielded their treasures for poetic display in a gigantic cabinet; while a Dickensian Curiosity Shop tempts us with the bizarre aura of American bric-a-brac. Each immersive environment is also a habitat, evoking the characters that observe, conserve or exploit the natural world.
The catalogue features new short essays on each of the exhibited works, an interview between the artist and Iwona Blazwick and a reprint of a short story by National Book Award for Fiction winner Andrea Barrett.