By ‘I have no more questions for white walls!’

By contrast, American conceptual artist Mark Dion identifies ‘the situation of “endgameness” in which many conceptualist critiques of the gallery found themselves’ (Coles 1999: 46) – those criticising the institution, were themselves institutionalised. Therefore, Dion turned his attention from the art museum, to natural history and university establishments, claiming ‘I have no more questions for white walls!’ (Coles 1999).In his installation Bureau of the Centre for the Study of Surrealism and its Legacy, Dion blah blah.  The piece appears as somewhere between an ‘old curator’s office, a storage room and a sixteenth century cabinet of curiosities.’ (Marion Endt) The sixteenth and seventeenth century ‘cabinet of curiosity’, is integral to understanding Dion’s approach, as these extraordinary collections of juxtaposing objects made by the wealthy epitomise the intrigue and wonder Dion seeks to create. Besides increasing social stature as symbols of influence and power, these bizarre collections acted as almost miniature universes, allowing for the viewers to engage in questioning the world around them. They preceded the categorization system, ‘System Naturae’ of Carl Linneas, which transformed the chaotic yet curious, intriguing collection, to an ordered, comprehensible one which explained the world. This rationalization resulted in the museum as we now know it, and the creation of academic departments and specialism. However, Dion would argue it also gave rise to the ‘passive’ viewer; ‘the museum now simplifies the questions and gives you reductive answers for them’. Through his installation work, the artist seeks to promote his belief that ‘A museum should provoke questions, not spoon-feed answers and experiences’.However, Dion opposes the idea that museums are ‘un-correctable sites of ideology’ (Dion, Dezeuze, Kelly and Lomas), instead he sought to cooperate with the institution to engage in reform, aiming to ‘make it a more interesting and effective cultural institution’. (Dion) In doing so, he  “manages to undermine the binary logic earlier forms of institutional critique got entrapped in” (Marion Endt).