A couple weeks ago I went to the Tonya Bonakdar Gallery in Chelsea, and encountered the work of Jeffrey Vallance and Mark Dion. I’d heard of Mark Dion, but not Jeffrey Vallance. Vallance’s work was presented with acerbic wit and odd reverence, at first off-putting but then I was drawn in by narratives (look for Blinky’s bone, and the Red Pencil, not to mention the underwear he wore when he met the ruler of Tonga).
Mark Dion‘s work never fails to impress me. Imagine taxonomy a la aesthetes of the 19th century when there were still things left to discover, nouveau thoreau… looking back. When you look back to the methods olden days the romantic can creep in, however since it’s all new work the commentary of categorization and preservation takes on new meaning. The world of our times has be so thoroughly dissected that it’s nice to refresh the eye on artwork with this new/old intent. An interesting Dion quote:
“My interest in Surrealism really comes from the way that the Surrealists used museums and collections with an overlay of the irrational onto the rational. They were also engaged in museum culture and were very interested in the recently obsolete. For me, that’s an interesting element of museum culture- that sense of obsolescence.”
- Mark Dion
Dion’s work usually has animals or elements found in nature, and points to how we as non-human animals use, interact with, or think about animals and the environment.