Exhibitions 2006

Mark Dion: Microcosmographia

Mark Dion Mole

14th Jan - 12 March 2006

American artist Mark Dion poses fascinating questions about the way we view nature and the scientific methods used to represent the natural world.
For this exhibition, the galleries were transformed into an extraordinary cabinet of curiosities including a large scale three dimensional tableau of a beached aquatic animal, a decorative tank of live piranhas and a disarmingly convincing giant mole.

Mark Dion: Microcosmographia was the only northern showing of a major new exhibition by Mark Dion, one of the most influential artists working today. It was the first solo show by the contemporary American artist in the UK since 1997 and this was the final British showing of this touring exhibition.

The exhibition brought together huge creatures and fantastic visions from some of Dion's key works. For more than twenty years Dion has centred his work on representations of the natural world referencing science, museums, zoos and art and critically exploring the relationship between culture and the natural world.
His work combines both real and invented elements, and invariably includes both humorous and critical looks at our world.

{Insert image} One of the highlights of the exhibition was called Alexander von Humbolt (Amazon Memorial) and consisted of a decorative tank of live piranhas commemorating the man that Charles Darwin described as 'the greatest scientific traveller who ever lived.' A founder of modern geography, Von Humboldt explored a huge part of South America charting its landscape and recording many species of plants and animals for the first time.
The work of another 'gentleman scientist', Jean Henri Fabre, provided the inspiration for Les Necrophores & L'Enterrement, a giant mole suspended from the ceiling of the gallery.

The Harris also displayed the results of work with Ashton Community Science College which worked with a local artist on a creative research project responding to this exhibition.

Secret Garden Biological Field Unit
In addition to the gallery exhibition the Harris showed the Secret Garden Biological Field Unit on the steps at the front of the museum.
This idiosyncratic laboratory was established by Dion as a research project. A team of volunteers collected, documented and catalogued plant and insects specimens from the South London Gallery's garden.
Visitors were able to access the Unit on:
Tuesdays 2-3pm
Thursdays 1-2pm
Saturdays 1-2pm

There were free events for children on three Saturdays during the exhibition, Sunday Art Days - free drop-in workshops for families running on three Sundays and half-term events, including: It's a Bug's Life and a Fun Writing Workshop

{Insert image} Mark Dion: Microcosmographia has been organised by the South London Gallery with the support of Bloomberg, The Gulbenkian Fondation, The Henry Moore Foundation, Arts Council England.

The exhibition was supported by The Holiday Inn, Preston.

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