Society of Amateur-Ornithologists

Mark Dion has been a passionate collector for over twenty years. Through this almost obsessive approach, he has developed objects, sculptures and photographic works and assembled them into installations that often resemble displays in natural history museums.

In his productions in open space he combines artistically arranged sceneries of natural phenomena’s, in which he includes both biological and philosophical thoughts and links them with the current art discourse. He often cooperates with natural history museums and collections, but remains the right to interpret nature differently in his works. – For the Emscherkunst, Mark Dion has realized such a bold installation: The artist turned a former gas tank which he had discovered during his research on the Emscher Island at the old water treatment plant in Herne, into an accessible “research station”. From afar the tank looks like a stranded submarine, its interior however reveals the inviting atmosphere of a “Gentleman’s Club”, entirely in the style of Captain Nemo’s Nautilus submarine in Jules Verne’s adventure story “20,000 Leagues under the Sea”.

Society of Amateur-Ornithologists invites visitors to devote themselves to the study and observation of native species of birds. This affectionately quirky place for encounters and conversations has been equipped by the artist with numerous books on the theme of ornithology in different languages, in order to hone the visitor’s sensitivity toward nature and, in particular, the protection of birds. By using the former gas tank as “observatory station,” it will provide a new perspective on the surrounding environment, while at the same time inviting exhibition visitors to meet and talk about the ecological and structural changes in the Emscher Valley.

During Emscherkunst 2016 the installation was located in Dortmund on the outskirts of Castrop-Rauxel within the grounds of the new flood control reservoir. The so-called “Hochwasserrückhaltebecken” (HRB) was created to protect residential areas from flash flooding. Additional a new natural landscape and an new home for many animals und plants developed in the area. Many birds found new hatcheries on site and during the summer many different bird species could be observed from within the gas tank. After the exhibition the art work has been put back in storage.