American artist Mark Dion’s large-scale installations draw attention to characters that observe, conserve or exploit the natural world.
Taking on the role of scientist, explorer, museum curator and archaeologist, Mark Dion approaches art by shadowing scientific enquiry, engaging in fieldwork, expeditions and experiments. This major solo exhibition of installations made between 1990 to the present, plus a new commission made especially for London, explores ideas concerning nature and the environment – such as how nature can exist in urban space but also how it is managed and controlled.
Alongside the new commission is a series of Hunting Blinds (2008), inspired by structures used to disguise hunters in the wild; a naturalist’s study decorated with wallpaper designed by the artist; and a recreation of a 1920 curator’s office filled with objects, artefacts and specimens from ancient and modern culture ('The Bureau of the Centre for the Study of Surrealism and Its Legacy').
Finally, Tate Thames Dig (1998-2000) is presented as an example of Dion’s participatory work. In 1998, led by Dion's archaeological approach, a group of teenagers, retirees, artists and historians mudlarked on the foreshores of Millbank and Bankside, London, looking for artefacts at low tide and finding objects such as clay pipes, plastic toys, credit cards and animal bones. Here these findings are transformed into a poetic display, accompanied by documentary photographs of the beachcombers and tidal flow charts.