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03 Jun 2009

Mark Dion – Concerning Hunting at Herbert-Gerisch-Stiftung

Thee Great Hunter at Home, 1993
Courtesy Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York

Mark Dion - Concerning Hunting


17 May – 11 October 2009

opening hours:
Wednesday – Friday: 11.00 – 18.00, Saturday and Sunday: 11.00 – 19.00. Admission: € 6/ Concessions € 3

+49-4321-555 120

Brachenfelder Str. 69
24536 Neumünster

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Mark Dion (*1961 in New Bedford, lives in New York and Pennsylvania) builds six hunting stands in Neumünster, six quite different raised hides referring to six types of hunters or hunting situations. There are the Kennel and The Ruin, a derelict stand; one hide unmistakably belongs to The Slob, another to The Glutton, yet another to the Dandy-Rococo; The Librarian, finally, points to a scholarly type of hunter. The artist uses not only the regular exhibition space, but also the entire park in Neumünster – as a special feature, the hunting room of Herbert Gerisch, the founder, is included in the exhibition. The 'private' thus becomes 'public' as Dion converts the collection of a hunter into the installation of an artist.

Mark Dion, who lives in New York and Pennsylvania, belongs to the artists who are classificationists. He is interested in sociohistorical analyses and works with natural scientists and art institutions either to describe natural history like an alchemist as a typology of human cultural volition, or – where necessary and with the occasional irony – to invent it. The aesthetic juxtaposition of art and other collector's items the artist develops to express such a critical world view is as elaborated und subtle as in the Renaissance cabinets of curiosities; from today's perspective, the unfamiliar combination provokes inquisitiveness and creates powerful and sometimes brutal images.

Mark Dion's artistic concept aims at seriality and calls on the time-honoured scientific tradition of the encyclopaedia. But the artist is a psychologist as well who encourages the visitors to think about what type of person they are. After all, every human being is a hunter, and Mark Dion derives a psychology or even an archetypology of hunting. The comprehensive exhibition 'Concerning Hunting/ Über die Jagd' is realised in co-operation with Kunstraum Dornbrin, Aarhus Kunstbygning, Galleria Civica di Modena and Kunsthalle Krems. In Germany, it will only be shown in Neumünster, where it gets a special twist by the addition, among other things, of Kennel, the new, extravagant hunting stand with an integrated doghouse for 'Baron', the founder's hound.

The artistic examination of the topic „nature' is a leitmotif in the oeuvre of this exceptional artist. His works investigate the organising principles of the creaturely and turn the viewer into a collector, an explorer and an adventurer. Seemingly playful, without nostalgia and romance, Mark Dion pins down subtle cultural differences: The Dandy-Rococo with his cut glass and silver plate, with his hunting horn and numerous trophies refers to the age-old alliance between hunting and aristocracy and thus to the cultural act that precedes the defeat of the demonic forces of nature. In The Glutton, the paradisiac abundance has degenerated into excess. The hunting stand is awash with sausages, meat, bones, cigarettes, glasses and plates. Even though opulence and illusion are integral parts of the iconography of hunting, uninhibited consumption leads to decline – or rather to The Ruin, the dilapidated hide. Similarly, The Slob leaves behind empty casings, used targets, beer and liquor bottles, cigarette stubs, half-eaten tins and Playboy magazines, mimicking machismo and thus becoming the hunted one himself.

The overlapping of fiction and reality, of art and documentation is the hallmark of Mark Dion's artistic strategy. With the alterations in the Gerisch-Stiftung he plans for the exhibition 'Concerning Hunting', he continues his series of artistic interventions in found situations that analyse the limits of nature and culture, of science and museal documentation. Important references are the concepts the American artist has developed e. g. for the 'Natuurhistorisch Museum Masstricht', the 'Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature' in Paris and the 'Château de Chambord' in the Loire region. The exhibition of the internationally acclaimed artist is a special contribution to the lead topic of the sculpture park, a question that was formulated by Dr. Martin Henatsch, the artistic director, to examine culturally shaped perceptions of nature as reflected in art: 'Where is Arcadia today?' This concept demands a 'site-specific' curating that perfectly matches Mark Dion's strategy.

In an interview (Kunstforum International, 2001), the artist described his approach as „location sensitive'. Consequently, he includes not only the previously used exhibition space in the Villa Wachholtz and the Gerisch-Galerie in Neumünster in his concept, but also the private hunting room of the founder. Among other things, Mark Dion designed six fictitious, stereotypical hunter costumes from different periods and continents to complement the existing interior decoration: The American Frontiersman, the African Great White Safari Hunter, the Fox Chaser with top-hat and hunting horn, the European Countryside Hunter with rubber boots, the prehistoric Caveman and the contemporary North American Bow Hunter. In combination with the Massai collection Herbert Gerisch brought home from the hunt, found reality and artistic imagination merge into an almost unanalysable synthesis.

At the same time, Mark Dion is an expert, cross-cultural moderator who counter questions inquiries while indulging intellectual speculation: Isn't there an essential connection between the hunt for and the collection of trophies, art, beautiful moments or special locations? Isn't a leader implicitly a hunter of power? Isn't true power something every individual has to chase and capture for himself? Mark Dion subtly uncovers the cultures of hunting but takes care not to denounce the urge to hunt that is deeply rooted in human nature. He moots, intensifies and dramatises the usual scenarios and finally warns the viewers that the human species always bears the potential for self-destruction. Mark Dion himself describes his disposition as 'dark sensitivity': 'I don't believe that things will improve. Even though the world won't suffer a devastating catastrophe, it will decline into a less and less interesting place with a continually decreasing biological and cultural diversity. In this sense, my works tend to appear as macabre and pessimistic.' However, the sculptural, forward-looking transformation of this disposition into Mark Dion's singular visual language turns the exhibition into a fascinating experience.

Curators of the exhibition: Dr. Dr. Dieter Buchhart (director Kunsthalle Krems), Mag. Verena Gamper (freelance curator, Wien), Dr. Martin Henatsch (artistic director of the Herbert-Gerisch-Stiftung, organiser und co-curator of the exhibition in Neumünster).

The exhibition catalogue has been published by Hatje Cantz (€ 20,- during the exhibition, € 25,- afterwards).

Other exhibition locations: Kunstraum Dornbirn (3 April – 1 June 2008), Aarhus Kunstbygning (27 June – 26 October 2008), Galleria Civica di Modena (1 February – 26 April 2009), Kunsthalle Krems (8 November 2009 – 14 February 2010)


Guided tours on every second Sunday of the month at 12.00 o'clock:
14 June, 12 July, 9 August, 13 September, 11 October. Admission and tour € 6

Sunday 26 July 11.00
Open day. Variety programme for young and old concerning hunting (and art). Admission free.

Sunday 20 September 17.00
Fashion show. Traditional hunting styles and playful romantic looks. A co-operation with Nortex Moden and the Inner Wheel Club NMS. Models: The Inner Wheelers. Host: Brigitte Boege. Admission € 12