Art of Change 21 – What projects are you currently working on?
Mark Dion – I’m always juggling a dozen or so projects at any given time. Some are close to completion and others are years off! I’m constantly developing new ideas and working with new institutions. Unlike some of my peers from my generation I am a very small operation – no full-time employees and just a tiny studio. Most recently, I was approached to help natural history and maritime museums reorganise their collections for display. This is a really exciting opportunity since I get access to a rich and wide variety of collections, never previously displayed, which are sensitive to post-colonial or environmental matters. My approach is intentionally fragmented and diverse, with many different types of expression and locations. They are all related by concern for the natural world yet take on remarkably varied forms – from interventions in museums, to prints and drawings, installations, sculptures, and art in public spaces. In addition, I teach and sometimes curate or co-curate exhibitions.

AOC21 – How did you come up with the theme of ecological issues?
M.D. – When young, I had a very hands on relationship with wild places and things. I also witnessed a lot of destruction. Furthermore, I grew up in the 1970s when ecological awareness was starting to emerge. Later on, when studying art, I found my peers and teachers weren’t much interested in environmental issues. The art world in New York is utterly cosmopolitan and the themes of nature, natural history, and ecology are not that visible.  Nevertheless, I eventually found out other artists interested in ecology, as well as writers like Steven Jay Gould and many others. Through my keen interest in animals, I explored the history of natural sciences and closely studied the natural history museum as an institution producing knowledge about natural world. So rather than focusing on ecology issues as a theme, I’m more interested in the broad body of ideas that shapes our understanding of what gets to represent nature at any given time for a distinct group of people. I’m viewing nature with a critical eye!

Photo © Artspace

More information about Mark Dion, here

Interview conducted by Alice Audouin. 

Find all the articles from Impact Art News n°13 – November 2019