Mark Dion: Enter the Birdcage


Submitted a year ago
Created by
Susan B. Apel

Everyone is talking about Mark Dion. His “Misadventures of a 21st-Century Naturalist” at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston has been deemed one of the country’s  “10 exhibitions you must see this fall.” Even the ticket seller at the museum told me, unbidden, that Dion was a must-not-miss. 

Advertisement: Content continues below...

He is an artist, an explorer, and an environmentalist. He loves large and gorgeous cabinets that he builds himself. Then he artfully arranges, on and in them, his treasures, often literally unearthed from his own excavations. For New Bedford Cabinet, he mined a waterfront site of an old 19th century bar that had burned down. He found plenty—tools, bottles, ceramics, now displayed as both art and history. 

His pieces are colorful, thoughtful, some the epitome of order, others as jumbled as your own eternal mess in the basement. None of them, however, surpassed The Library for the Birds of Massachusetts. It is a large steel mesh birdcage, filled with a makeshift tree and hundreds of books about birds and nature. Live zebras finches and canaries make it their home. No need to stand outside looking in; you are invited to enter. When I asked if the birds were happy to be part of an art installation, the docent said yes, and as if proof of it,  “they’re nesting.” And so they were. Once I was inside, a finch gave me a curious eye as it ripped strips of paper from the pages of books about, well, birds, then disappeared into its small nest to continue on with the day’s construction. 

Mark Dion: Misadventures of a 21st-Century Naturalist will be on view at the ICA in Boston until January 1, 2018.

———————————

Help me get the word out?  Please share on Facebook and/or Twitter. Just click the icons at the bottom of this article, below my photo. 

And please subscribe! I write about the arts and other interesting things in the Upper Valley. Sign up to receive an email each time I post something new by clicking here, or by hitting the Subscribe button. To view my profile or to read previous posts, please click here.

Susan B. Apel, writer, ArtfulEdge

Comments

Download the DailyUV app today!