Taking the traditional museum practice of collections and taxonomic displays as a starting point, the artists will create a wunderkammer in the making and an imaginary future museum.
United by a flair for speculation and talent for combining the critical with the playful, Dion and Zhilyaev transform the historic Casa dei Tre Oci into a dynamic and immersive environment. Each artist will create a new large-scale installation, opening a dialogue between two different approaches—Dion’s that reaches back through time, and Zhilyaev’s that projects into the future.
Mark Dion‘s new installation The Wonder Workshop is a meditation on the origins of collecting, exploring the pre-Englightment Wunderkammer tradition. The work proceeds from a speculative chain or relations which begin with a living bird in far off South America which is killed and skinned by a traveler, brought back to Europe, where it is sold to a curiosity dealer. It is then mounted by a taxidermist and sold to a collector, who installs the bird in his cosmological curiosity cabinet. There, it is drawn by an artist, and the image then reproduced by an engraver and bound in a rare volume. The chain of events that make up the story of this particular bird could end here but, 400 years later, Dion picks it up and fashions a new link that highlights the fetishisation of the exotic and interrogates our fascination with the act of collecting and the culture of nature. With a team of talented sculptors, who will set up a live workshop at the exhibition space in Venice, he will produce three-dimensional objects based on the curious imagery from 16th- and 17th-century Wunderkammen catalog engravings of exotic animals plants, instruments, and ethnographic and archeological artifacts. These will then be exhibited in a new marvelous wonder room exhibition.
In addition to this new installation, Dion also shows works from The Pursuit of Sir William Hamilton, commissioned by the Fondazione Morra Greco in Naples, and his 1997–98 project Raiding Neptune’s Vault: A Voyage to the Bottom of the Canals and Lagoon of Venice.
In his new project Cradle of Humankind, Arseny Zhilyaev depicts an unsettling image of a far-off future in which humans have naturally abandoned Earth, which has been turned into a museum reservation called The Cradle of Humankind, dedicated to the origins of life and civilization. The reservation is part of a network of local museums commemorating historic figures and key events in the history of civilization on Earth, presenting artefacts from the past and merging the utopian aesthetics of the Soviet space programme with the ultimate idealism of Russian Cosmism. And, it is within the framework of this Utopia and Idealism that the museum also offers unique services, resurrecting client’s ancestors, therefore achieving the highest metaphysical aim.