Mark Dion

Behind the Scenes with Mark Dion - Arts & Museums from the Cabinet of Curiosities to Institutional Critique

- ENROLLMENT CLOSED - Mark Dion often positions museum history as a focal point in his artwork. His works reflect the historical and political conditions of the museums his works are often within; making museums a critical part of his artistic practice.

This intensive course interrogates museums not from an arts administration position but from that of the artist. He asks, “Museums: what are they? where did they come from? and who are they for?” These are some of the questions that will be explored in this intensive sociocultural class, conducted with customary Dion humor and joy. One of the central topics investigated in this course will be an exploration of contemporary artists who collaborate with museums as an experimental laboratory. These artists’ interdisciplinary and critical interventions within museums will be central to the class discourse, led and explored by an artist who has worked in such a manner. Andrea Fraser, Fred Wilson, and other artists who work with museums to undermine or challenge their institutional purpose will also be highlighted. (This course was previously called Museum Culture. The titled has been revised to better reflect the content of the course.)

Feb 6th - 16th

Mon, Tues, Wed
12:30-3 pm EST



Mark Dion was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts in 1961. He received a BFA (1986) and an honorary doctorate (2003) from the University of Hartford, Hartford Art School, and attended the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study Program.

Dion’s work examines the ways in which dominant ideologies and public institutions shape our understanding of history, knowledge, and the natural world. Appropriating archaeological, field ecology, 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. Dion also frequently collaborates with museums of natural history, aquariums, zoos, and other institutions mandated to produce public knowledge on the topic of nature.

Mark Dion, Library for the Birds of Massachusetts, 2005, Courtesy of the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York.
Mark Dion, The Department of Tropical Research: Aquatic and jungle field stations in 2 parts, 2017, Courtesy of the Artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York.
Mark Dion, Wayward Wilderness (installation view), Marta Herford, Herford, Germany, 2015. Courtesy of the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York.
Mark Dion, Tropical Collectors, (Bates, Spruce and Wallace), 2009, Various equipment, sand, Courtesy of the artist and BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art.

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