Jillian Steinhauer writes about art and politics and is a former senior editor of Hyperallergic. Her work has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, The New Republic, The Nation, and other publications. She won the 2014 Best Art Reporting award from the US chapter of the International Association of Art Critics.
“Misadventures of a 21st-Century Naturalist” isn’t comprehensive, but it offers a good overview of Mark Dion’s art. Viewers get an introduction to his primary method: gathering objects—whether on a self-conducted excavation or through the more casual means of collecting—and arranging them according to varying logics to create meticulous tableaux, often in the form of cabinets. At the heart of this practice is a challenging but fruitful contradiction: Dion is a dedicated artist and environmentalist who repurposes older methods of museological and scientific inquiry, which are mired in colonialism and anthropocentric belief systems, in an effort to expose them.