American and artist. He studied Fine Art. From 1986 to 1990 he worked as a studio assistant for Ashley Bickerton. Dion established his reputation with installations in Europe and the USA, in which he applies interests in archaeology, ecology and zoology to works that explore cultural representations of nature. His art uncovers the structures that govern the natural world, dissolving the boundary between nature and culture; in his view, ‘nature is one of the most sophisticated arenas for the production of ideology'. In 1990, in collaboration with William Schefferine, he made the installation Wheelbarrows of Progress
(1990; New York, Amer. F. A.). In this four wheelbarrows formed a train, each containing objects commenting on contemporary ‘green' politics; the leading barrow contained stuffed toy animals and was titled Survival of the Cutest (Who Gets on the Ark?)
. His work often takes the form of tableaux-like arrangements of objects, based on historical cabinets of curiosities. These installations comment on power structures behind taxonomical definitions. During the 1990s his work combined a focus on ecology, often based on extensive fieldwork, and an examination of museum ideology, particularly that of natural history museums. Although the collaborative approach involved with fieldworking resulted in upbeat educational projects, in other, often more private works, Dion expressed dismay about ineffectual environmentalism and ignorance of the ecosystem.
True Stories (exh. cat., essay I. Blazwick and E. Dexter, London, ICA, 1992)
L. G. Corrin, M. Kwon and N. Bryson: Mark Dion (London, 1997) [includes selection of artist's writings]
Mark Dion: Tate Thames Dig, 26 October 1999–27 February 2000 (exh. cat., London, Tate, 1999)
10 December 2000