Miami Art Museum. Anchor Gallery: Mark Dion

Through Aug 28, 2011.

Miami Art Museum is showcasing Mark Dion’s complete South Florida Wildlife Rescue Unit, a large-scale installation that focuses on the Everglades and human attempts to control the South Florida ecosystem. The South Florida Wildlife Rescue Unit was originally commissioned by MAM in 2006 and subsequently acquired by the Museum.

Interweaving the diverse disciplines of art, science, ecology, history, and archeology, Dion’s project consists of three parts, corresponding to the three major periods of Everglades history: exploration (late 1700s – mid 1800s); exploitation (mid-1800s – early 20th century); and preservation and restoration (mid-20th century – the present).
The largest component of the installation features a facsimile of a vehicle and equipment belonging to an imaginary agency that rushes into vulnerable ecosystems to save threatened plants and animals: the South Florida Wildlife Rescue Unit. 

The second portion of the installation is a series of reproductions of vintage photographs taken in the early decades of the 20th century by John Kunkel Small, a curator of the New York Botanical Garden who identified numerous plant species in the Everglades and authored a scathing book entitled From Eden to Sahara: Florida’s Tragedy, which documented the changes wrought by dredging and draining the area.
The third portion is comprised of a vitrine containing artifacts, including a book of pressed specimens, the Herbarium Perrine (Marine Algae), purportedly belonging to 19th century botanist and early Florida settler Henry Perrine. Perrine was partly responsible for the overzealous introduction of foreign plant species to the area, which now poses one of the gravest threats to the ecosystem. Like the installation’s vehicle, the vitrine and its components are a fiction invented by the artist.

Miami Art Museum
101 West Flagler Street
Miami, FL 33130
305.375.3000
www.miamiartmuseum.org

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