Artist Mark Dion to create a functional bird blind at Tijuana River Estuary


ark Dion, one of the 34 artists creating 30 new works for inSITE2000, is readying his project, Blind/Hide, for the binational exhibition that opens Oct. 13 and runs through Feb. 28, 2001.

Dion, a New Bedford, MA native who lives and works in Beach Lake, PA, is creating a "bird blind" in the Tijuana River Estuary Reserve, a nature preserve located just north of the border. The 8-by-16-foot structure, which will house an installation of photographs, charts, lists and books on the 370 bird species found in the reserve, will be a functional bird blind for birdwatchers.

"I wanted to make a building that illustrates the complicated elements of this open, almost surreal space," Dion said. "Because the refuge is so close to the world's busiest border, it embodies a number of critical cultural and environmental problems of the area - border politics, urban sprawl, pollution problems, and the heavy military and police presence. With helicopters whirling overhead, it's the last place in the world you'd expect birds to be comfortable, yet they manage to exist there."

The building's exterior employs camouflage techniques used by the military and by hunters to create a nearly invisible structure that blends into the surrounding habitat through the use of plant and camo-blind materials. In stark contrast, the interior creates a warm, cozy atmosphere for birdwatchers and those interested in landscape and ecological issues.

An important element inside the field station blind is a collection of photographs of the 52 resident year-round species of the refuge. Visitors will also have access to photographs and writings of the heroes of American birdwatching and ecologists, including Rachel Carson and John Audubon.


The artist and his work


Dion is internationally acclaimed for his work that investigates ecological issues, exploring nature as an arena for the production of ideology. He received a BFA from Hartford Art School, University of Hartford, CO, and studied at the School of Visual Arts, New York, and at The Whitney Independent Study Program, New York.

Using a variety of approaches, including installation, performance, drawing, and site-specific works, Dion addresses the politics of representation in the fields of nature and science. Some of his latest works reveal the absurdity of scientific classification systems that underlie some of our basic assumptions about the physical world. Other works investigate the historical roots of museum representation in the 17th and 18th century traditions of "cabinets of curiosity," personal collections of unusual and often eccentric objects.

His solo exhibits include Where the Land Meets the Sea, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco; Curiosity Cabinet for the Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, Ohio; and Mark Dion: Natural History and Other Fictions, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, England, and Kunstverein, Hamburg, Germany. He has written on art and nature and created collaborative on-site projects with the Belize Zoo and the Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary, Belize. Some of Dion's bird-related installations have been exhibited in New York, Basel and Zurich, Switzerland, and Antwerp, Belgium.


inSITE-ful projects

inSITE2000 is a contemporary arts project organized jointly by institutions in the United States and Mexico. Approximately 30 new works will debut in San Diego and Tijuana during the 19-week exhibition. Projects will range from new media and installation to performance and spectacle, film and video. Four "Exploration Weekends" scheduled for Oct. 13-15, Nov. 17-19, Jan. 19-21, and Feb. 23-25, will enable the public to experience focused activity. During these weekends, the public has the choice of joining a guided expedition for a fee or arranging their own transportation.

Most projects are open to the public at no charge. In addition to the Exploration Weekends, there will be special events including symposia, lectures, performances and a film and video series. Details are available online at A free schedule of events can be obtained by calling the inSITE office at (619) 544-1482.