Tanya Bonakdar Gallery is pleased to present Mark Dion: Theater of Extinction, an exhibition of new sculpture and drawings. Dion has shown with the gallery for over two decades, but this will be the artist’ first solo presentation in the Los Angeles space. The exhibition will include four new sculptural works and over a dozen new drawings, some among the largest Dion has produced to date.
Mark Dion uses his work to investigate systems of knowledge production and presentation, and to critique the underlying assumptions that determine how disciplines like science, geography, and art classify, organize, and display information. His large-
Dion’ method involves immersing himself in the classification systems and practices used by natural history museums, biologists, naturalists, curators and explorers and closely observing local environs to create installations that are situated within a particular place, discipline, or cultural paradigm. His study of scientists, the natural world, and geography has frequently led Dion to consider the environment and environmentalism. These issues have always been important to the artist, and as they have increasingly been featured in his works, he chose to explore the theme of extinction in this exhibition. Many works presented depict animals and plants of both past and present that are endangered or have disappeared entirely; others more generally address the degradation of the environment, which is a major factor in whether these species have the ability to survive or perish.
At the center of the exhibition, two large cabinet installations present various objects in symmetrical, visually pleasing schemes that resemble the Wunderkammer, or cabinet of curiosities, a common format used in early modern Europe to display heterogeneous collections of valued objects. The massive Cabinet of Extinction frames models of animals or animal parts (skulls, tusks, teeth) in individual cubbies, purporting to exhibit a level of detail reminiscent of a natural history museum. However, the scale of the animal models is off, notably with the inclusion of a tiny dinosaur and mastodon, as well as a rhinoceros that is not scientifically accurate, but rather depicts the animal as found in a well-
Two smaller sculptures, Dodo – Anatomy of Melancholy and Flamingo, link collecting and consumerism by suggesting how these human actions impact extinction through their effects on the environment. Each animal sits atop a hoard of trinkets, a collection of sorts, but the creatures are depicted either in death or distress. The skeletal dodo, a species that long ago disappeared from the earth, and the tar-
While drawing has always been an important part of Dion’ practice, the restrictions on travel over the past two years have required the artist to cut back on his explorations, field work, and off-
While many of the drawings in the show include components that appear scientific and logical, there is rarely a specific factual connection between the labels and the diagrams. Instead, an allegorical logic may apply, or in some cases viewers may strain to impose a logic where there is none at all. Inspired by surrealism, Dion pairs terms and images intuitively, leading to some surprising, thought-
Mark Dion is currently the artist in residence at the La Brea Tar Pits, part of the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County. His residency will culminate in a site-
Mark Dion was born in New Bedford, MA, in 1961, and he lives and works in Copake, NY. He has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions worldwide, including those at Storm King Sculpture Park (2019), the Whitechapel Gallery, London (2018), the ICA Boston (2017), the Academy of Fine Arts Design, Dresden (2014), and the Miami Art Museum (2006). Dion has also presented major site-
Exhibition 09 April -
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Exhibition views of Ttheater of Extinction, Mark Dion, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, Los Angeles, 2022