Mark Dion (b.1961) is an American artist who, in making his art, metamorphoses into explorer, biochemist, detective and archaeologist. In his gallery installations around Europe and America since the 1980s, Dion has constructed the laboratories, experiments and museum caches of the great historical naturalists - following in their footsteps in his own adventurous, eco-inspired journeys to the tropics. His research and magical collections are presented in installational still lifes that combine taxidermic animals with lab equipment artefacts, like walk-through Wunderkammers and life-sized cabinets of curiosity. Lias Graziose Corrin, Director of the Williams College Museum of Art, surveys Dion's most significant works and his ongoing investigations into natural history's obsession with categorizing nature. Critic and theorist Miwon Kwon talks to the artist about the interface between ecology and culture and the phenomenon of site-specific art. Norman Bryson, Professor of Art History at the University of California, San Diego, makes an iconographical analysis of The Library for the Birds of Antwerp, an indoor sculpture Dion constructed for 18 live African finches in 1993.
The artist has selected a text by novelist Jon Berger, one of the first post-war thinkers to analyze the position of animals in a capitalist society. The book also features Dion's own provocative, witty and often lyrical writing on nature and his role as an artist engaged in environmental issues.