March 11 - Aug. 28, 2011
Mark Dion's South Florida Wildlife Rescue Unit focuses on human interaction with the Everglades and the South Florida ecosystem. Interweaving the diverse disciplines of art, science, ecology, history, and archeology, Dion's project tells the story of different mentalities and motivations that have determined our history with Florida's wilderness.
The installation has three parts, corresponding to the three major periods of Everglades history: exploration (late 1700s - mid 1800s); exploitation (mid-1800s - early 20th century); and preservation and restoration (mid-20th century - present). The largest element is a facsimile of a vehicle and uniforms belonging to the South Florida Wildlife Rescue Unit, an imaginary agency that rushes into vulnerable ecosystems to save threatened plants and animals. With its official-looking insignia that evokes a sense of governmental authority, Dion's agency presents a tongue-in-cheek view of policymakers' dreams of decisive actions, while also saluting past and current grassroots activism.
The second portion of the installation consists of a series of reproductions of photographs taken in the early 20th century by John Kunkel Small, a curator of the New York Botanical Garden. The pictures show individuals transporting bulk shipments of orchids, bromeliads, and cacti out of the swamp by car, wagon, and boat - historical antecedents, perhaps, to the Rescue Unit's mobile laboratory. The third element of the installation is a vitrine containing artifacts purportedly belonging to 19th-century botanist and early Florida settler Henry Perrine, who was killed in 1840 at his outpost on Indian Key during the Second Seminole War. Like the truck, the vitrine and its components are a fiction invented by the artist.
Photo Credit: Mark Dion, The South Florida Wildlife Rescue Unit, 2006. Mixed media installation. Installation view, Pérez Art Museum. Collection Miami Art Museum, gift of Lin Lougheed. Reproduced with Permission of the Artist. Photo by Yesikka Vivancos.
Exhibition organization & support
Anchor Gallery: Mark Dion is organized by Miami Art Museum and curated by Peter Boswell, assistant director for programs and senior curator, and René Morales, associate curator. It is supported by donations to MAM's Annual Exhibition Fund.
View images from the artist talk, opening receptionVia facebook.com