MARK DION AND ALEXIS ROCKMAN:¬

JOURNEY TO NATURE'S UNDERWORLD

Mark Dion and Alexis Rockman with Aaron Delehanty, Loud Cow Studio, American Landscape, 2022. Mixed-media diorama with taxidermy, found objects, and painted background, 8 x 16 x 8 feet. Photo: Walter Colley. Post-Production: Maria Spinelli. Courtesy of American Federation of Arts

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FEBRUARY 9–JUNE 9, 2024

Mark Dion and Alexis Rockman: Journey to Nature’s Underworld explores the enduring friendship and shared passions between two renowned artists for over three decades. Both artists have achieved international recognition on their own, yet their creative paths have intertwined as they’ve explored complex ecological issues. This exhibition unites sculptures, installations, and paintings created by both artists.

Dion and Rockman subvert traditional museum experiences using tools of science and allegory. Each display becomes a theater of dissent. Dion's taxidermy dioramas and specimen cabinets unveil the truth of our strained relationship with nature. Rockman’s dense, populated landscapes depict the apocalyptic visions of a world in peril.

The concept of the "underworld" has many different associations. It can mean anything from the mythic land of the dead to the hidden depths of the Earth. In the realm of the underworld, Dion and Rockman guide us through our collective unconscious. They expose the dark desires and denial that drive our culture's harmful course. Their works serve as a warning: We need to confront ecological crisis and forge a new path toward a sustainable future.

The exhibition is divided into four sections, exploring themes and touchpoints that hold significance for both artists: Natural Classifications, Into the Wilds, In Deep Waters, and Time Travels. It culminates in a collaborative diorama that distills many of their shared concerns into a single work. The “underworld” within this exhibition encompasses several relevant associations, including the mythic land of the dead, archaeology, Earth’s subsurface, and elements of criminality. Within the context of Dion’s and Rockman’s works, the “underworld” also incorporates unconscious beliefs about nature, invisible micro and macro dimensions, and deep denial of our culture’s harmful course.

Mark Dion and Alexis Rockman: Journey to Nature’s Underworld was curated by Suzanne Ramljak, Chief Curator of Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, and organized by the American Federation of Arts.

EXHIBITION GALLERY

Alexis Rockman (American, b. 1962), Pioneers, from The Great Lakes Cycle, 2017. Oil and alkyd on wood panel, 72 x 144 in. Courtesy Sperone Westwater Gallery, New York and American Federation of Arts

Alexis Rockman, Departure, 2018. Oil on Dibond aluminum composite sheet. 44 x 56 in. Barbara and Jonathan Lee, Courtesy the artist and American Federation of Arts. Photo by Adam Reich

Mark Dion (American, b.1961), Department of Tropical Research—Jungle Station, 2017. Mixed media. Courtesy the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York / Los Angeles

Alexis Rockman (American, b.1962), Disney World I, 2005. Oil on wood. Beth Rudin DeWoody

Mark Dion (American, b.1961), Cabinet of Marine Debris, 2014. Wood and metal cabinet, found objects. Collection of Martin Z. Margulies, Miami

Mark Dion (American, b.1961). The Classical Mind (Scala Naturae and Cosmic Cabinet), 2017. Wooden structure, taxidermy specimens, artifacts, plaster bust, and LED lights. Courtesy the artist and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York / Los Angeles

Alexis Rockman (American, b.1962), The Farm, 2000. Oil and acrylic on wood panel 96 in. x 10 ft. Parrish Art Museum, Water Mill, NY. Gift of the Joy of Giving Something, Inc. Courtesy American Federation of Arts. Photo by Adam Reich

Mark Dion (American, b. 1961), Concerning the Elephant Bird, 2016. Mixed media, 53 ¼ x 39 x 21 in. Courtesy of Tanya Bonakdar Gallery and American Federation of Arts

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