For over twenty years, the contemporary American artist Mark Dion (b. 1961) has been exploring the intersections of art and science, vision and knowledge production, collection and modes of presentation. By assuming the role of an amateur scientist, a collector, a historian or a biologist, the artist takes a humorous but critical approach at the relationship between culture and nature.
Mark Dion reintroduces the debates on the natural history evolution, the role of the scientist and the (re)presentation of nature and ecological systems in science, museums, displays or zoos. Focusing on the dismantling of cultural representations of the natural world, Mark Dion questions the relationship we have today with this world. His work, which explicitly refers to the curiosity cabinets, and is nourished by the history of museums, is not about nature but about the idea of nature. The artist collects ordinary objects and specimens of the living world to organize them in abundant installations. By combining elements as diverse as skeletons, naturalized and stuffed animals, plants, labeled jars or books, he creates complex spaces, conceived as microcosms and spaces of scientific fictions.
In the chapel, alongside La Guerre et la Paix, will be présented the 2009 work The Tropical Collectors (Bates, Spruce and Wallace) by Mark Dion. It refers to the little-known Victorian naturalists and tropical collectors. These British explorers were part of a colonial venture and are now entirely associated with the history of early science and biology. In the 1850s, people like H.W Bates, Richard Spurce and Alfred Russell Wallace, bravely explored South America, crossed the Amazon River and collected, at the cost of their lives, an immense diversity of specimens and ethnographic subjects. The Tropical Collectors presents all the attributes of these adventurers, as if their equipment had just arrived from England on the shores of South America.
Mark Dion is an artist represented by the gallery In situ - Fabienne Leclerc, Paris / Romainville.
Visual : Mark Dion, The Tropical Collectors, installation view at Kunstmuseum St-Gallen (Switzerland), in 2016 © Photo: DR / Kunstmuseum St-Gallen. Courtesy of the artist of the gallery In situ - Fabienne Leclerc, Paris / Romainville, 2022.
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