Past Event

Mark Dion | Fall 2021

October 7, 2021
7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Introduced and followed by a conversation with Maureen Raymo, Director, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, and Co-Founding Dean of Columbia Climate School.

Renowned visual artist Mark Dion presented recent work, including the new installation The Field Station of the Melancholy Marine Biologist, opening October 8, 2021 on Governors Island. 

About the work: 

“Previously presented at Storm King Art Center as part of the exhibition Climate Indicators: Artists on Climate Change in 2018, and Prospect 4, New Orleans in 2017, The Field Station of the Melancholy Marine Biologist takes on a new form on Governors Island, with objects and material culture informed by the Island’s unique history and the ecology of New York Harbor and the Buttermilk Channel. Starting October 8, 2021, the piece will be on long-term view in Building 105, a historic arsenal building located within the Governors Island Historic District located across from Fort Jay.

The new installation of the work transforms historic Building 105 into an abandoned research outpost, filled with scientific objects, instruments, artifacts and samples. As visitors peer through the building’s windows, they witness a scene preserved in time—a moment, Dion explains, ‘where somebody studying the natural world realizes that the future’s not looking so good…that we are going to lose a great amount of the natural wonders that have been here in previous centuries.’ The work invites reflection on the tools and methodologies through which audiences seek to understand the world around them, while inviting visitors to imagine the life of a solitary researcher faced with the realities of a dark future declining ocean health impacted by climate change.”

Co-presented by the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the Trust for Governors Island.

Artist Statement:

“Mark Dion’s work examines the ways in which dominant ideologies and public institutions shape our understanding of history, knowledge, and the natural world. The job of the artist, he says, is to go against the grain of dominant culture, to challenge perception and convention. Appropriating archaeological, field ecology and other scientific methods of collecting, ordering, and exhibiting objects, Dion creates works that question the distinctions between ‘objective’ (‘rational’) scientific methods and subjective’ (‘irrational’) influences. The artist’s spectacular and often fantastical curiosity cabinets, modeled on Wunderkammen of the 16th and 17th Century, exalt atypical orderings of objects and specimens. Dion also frequently collaborates with museums of natural history, aquariums, zoos and other institutions mandated to produce public knowledge on the topic of nature. By locating the roots of environmental politics and public policy in the construction of knowledge about nature, Mark Dion questions the objectivity and authoritative role of the scientific voice in contemporary society, tracking how pseudo-science, social agendas and ideology creep into public discourse and knowledge production.”