Curiosity, Collecting and Cabinets - An Interview with Mark Dion

Detail from The Wonder Workshop (2015) by Mark Dion

American conceptual artist Mark Dion has long been fascinated with how we understand, categorise and collect from the natural world around us. Through his drawings, sculpture and installations Dion explores how we tell stories about the natural world and challenges the narratives that fill many of our museums and scientific institutions. Where do we draw the line between scientific fact and human feeling? The current retrospective of his work Theatre of the Natural World at the Whitechapel Gallery features a glow-in-the-dark wunderkammer, live zebra finches flying around an enormous human-sized birdcage, and a cabinet filled with curiosities excavated from the banks of the Thames.

Dion seeks to reinvigorate the curiosity and wonder of the viewer, turning our expectations on their head and encouraging us to question and explo