Mark Dion

Tate Thames Dig 1999 by Mark Dion born 1961

Tate Thames Dig (1999)

Mark Dion and a group of volunteers searched the banks of London (Millbank and Bankside) searching for objects while treating it like an archaeological dig, with a tent ready for there finds to be placed in and cleaned.

The group were on the look out for objects of individual and ephemeral history, coming across a range of different pieces from oyster shells, plastics and clay pipes to name a few. In the exhibition these objects were displayed in a double sided mahogany cabinet, alongside photographs of the beach combers and tidal flow charts.

Once displayed these objects gain a new lease of life, by being shown in a museum setting it changes the aspect of how we perceive the object. Something like a piece of credit card which we would normally walk past suddenly has a story, can be considered important because the artist has decided that. By displaying it in a vintage cabinet, makes you take time at viewing these items, they suddenly come across as something historical. The items which have been lost and discarded as waste are re purposed and the gallery/museum environment creates an intrigue about these objects, turning them more in to artefacts then found scraps. The setting allows you to begin questioning the origin of the objects, and prompts further investigation into finding a narrative.

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