Sunday, July 8, 2012

Mark Dion's "Travels of William Bartrand - Reconsidered"

The other day when I was ruminating on building a curiosity cabinet, I was really thinking about Dion's Travels of William Bartram - Reconsidered but didn't know it until today.

From Ethan Hauser's New York Times Review: "Dion set about to recreate the journeys of William Bartram, a Pennsylvania-born naturalist who traveled through the Southeast in the 18th century. Though Dion tried to follow Bartram’s original route as closely as possible, there were detours spurred by both 20th-century interventions (strip malls, subdivisions, highways) and good old-fashioned whimsy (flea markets, barbecue joints). Along the way, Dion, an expert collector, documented his travels through delicate hand-drawn postcards, water samples from lakes and rivers, and the accumulation of everything from animal teeth to alligator-themed ashtrays."

Mark Dion, Travels of William Bartram - Reconsidered (Detail), 2008
Image via.

As Dion states in "The Culture of Nature: A Conversation with Mark Dion": "everything is fragmentary and imperfect. These important objects are presented side by side with curious and indefinable objects, things that are uniquely homemade, damaged, absurdly commonplace, and ravished by the elements."

I don't necessarily like how scientific it looks (and shiny and brown) but the presentation with drawers and bottles is appealing. As I get deeper into Autobiography and must contend with objects that will not work as photographs, a custom built piece of furniture becomes more important. The Clear Water Samples are also taking on a life of their own which will require a more thoughtful presentation. Considering I have never built anything complicated in the wood shop, this should be interesting. I may have figured out my fall project.

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