“Summum Bonum Quod est Magiae, Cabalae, Alchymae et Artis”(2004) by Mark Dion and Robert Williams brings the answer to the question “Can prints and engravings be regarded as the early conceptual artworks?”. This point was raised in me after a conversation with a Jesuit priest about Evangelicae Historiae Imagines (or Images of Gospel History) (first published 1593) written by Father Jerome Nadal (1507-1580) and designed by artist as Maerten de Vos (1532 - 1603) to visualise the meditations of Saint Ignatius of Loyola (1491 - 1556).
The work is part of the satirical “Phylogenetic Trees” (2004) which knowingly evoke its the history of naturalistic classification and the pre-enlightenment Wunderkammer.
Dion winks and provokes at the history which he is just as much part of as the artisans commemorated on the work.
Dion works as a constructor and keeper of history. Fascinating attempt to gain access to the history of EVERYTHING through the framing of the artist
“I avoid the tendency to ‘ golden age’, to understand the past as somehow superior and ideal. For any thoughtful person, the past is distinctly less are, open and just. Clearly, the past was a hellish realm for most of us. Rather then nostalgic, I see my work and a critical meditation on the history of the culture of science and its institutions mandated to describe and fix the natural world, the past, art and society.” (Mark Dion) / Mis-en-scène Iwona Blazwick and Mark Dion Conversation detail.
Phylogenetic Trees (2004) series is part of Mark Dion’s installation work the “The Naturalist’s Study”. “Summum Bonum Quod est Magiae, Cabale, Alchymae et Artis”
Mark Dion and Robert Williams Summum Bonum Quod est Magiae, Cabale, Alchymae et Artis, 2004
Artist Jan Wierix (c.1555 - c.1620) -Pentecost, 1593
Mark Dion Theatre of the Natural World is on view at the Whitechapel Gallery until 13th May 2018.