Sadly I know Mark Dion‘s work mainly through books, websites, art:21 and catalogs rather than the real thing. The only piece that I have encountered in real life is the Xyloteque Kassel. His work deals with the natural world and the ways in which we classify and represent it, “the schemes of knowledge that intervene between man and nature”, particularly in the Natural History Museum. He is also fascinated by earlier forms of the museum, such as the cabinet of curiosities or wunderkammer. I find it particularly ironic (and fascinating) that I know the work of an artist dealing with forms of representation almost entirely through representation.
For if all knowledge of the natural world is conditioned by institutions of knowledge with their own particular and parochial ways of producing truth, then the real – Nature – is not so much that which appears in representation, as that which remains always outside it.