This week: Duncan live from LA! This week he talks with artist Sarah Conaway.
Sarah Conaway (b. 1972 York, Pennsylvania) makes seemingly straightforward photographs that invite us to think magically, imbuing mundane objects with mystery and potential. Her recent photographs—printed in a range of sizes and primarily in black and white, with an occasional work in vibrant color—capture a series of actions set up by the artist in her the studio. Beyond the objects or materials that they portray, they express a residue, aura, or presence that we sense but do not necessarily see depicted. Although the act of photographing her sculptural constructions and still lifes—at times as ordinary as a crumpled strip of canvas or a piece of string—reduces the subjects’ dimensionality, it focuses our attention on texture, light, and shadow—and the sheer pleasure of looking. Conaway’s techniques are deceptively simple: her touch is light, the scale of the forms uncertain, the color and contrast stark. These arrangements of simple materials and common objects reveal their potential as architecture, figure, landscape, fantasy, or apparition while maintaining a tenuous state of balance and compositional harmony.
This week: We talk to artist Mark Dion, about social practice, the Museum of Jurassic Technology, cabinets of curiosity. The word “taxonomy” is bandied about at great length.
Mark Dion was born in 1961 in Massachusetts; he lives and works in Pennsylvania.
Dion is known for making art out of fieldwork, incorporating elements of biology, archaeology, ethnography, and the history of science, and applying to his artwork methodologies generally used for pure science. Traveling the world and collaborating with a wide range of scientists, artists, and museums, Dion has excavated ancient and modern artifacts from the banks of the Thames in London, established a marine life laboratory using specimens from New York’s Chinatown, and created a contemporary cabinet of curiosities exploring natural and philosophical hierarchies.
His approach emphasizes illustration and accuracy but is charged with a biting undertone. Dion has a longstanding interest in exploring how ideas about natural history are visualized and how they circulate in society. Dion’s work has been presented at many U.S. and international museums and galleries, including solo exhibitions at the Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver; Galleria Emi Fontana, Milan; Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York; and Deutsches Museum, Bonn. Dion has been commissioned to create works for Aldrich Museum of Art, Ridgefield, Connecticut; the Tate Gallery, London; the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco; and The Museum of Modern Art, New York.