mark dion builds a library for the birds of new york
mark dion builds a library for the birds of new york
mar 29, 2016

mark dion builds a library for the birds of new york

mark dion builds a library for the birds of new york
all images courtesy of tanya bonakdar gallery




mark dion: the library for the birds of new york and other marvels
tanya bonakdar gallery, new york
now through april 16, 2016



in the downstairs exhibition space of new york’s tanya bonakdar gallery, artist mark dion invites viewers to experience the large-scale immersive installation, ‘the library for the birds of new york’. in it, 22 live birds inhabit a circular chamber filled with books, photographs, artifacts and objects — all related to ornithology, and sourced from popular culture, art history, and film. also inside is an 11 foot high white oak, symbolizing important philosophical and scientific ideas, such as the tree of life, the tree of knowledge, and the evolutionary tree.

22 live birds inhabit a circular chamber filled with books, photographs and artifacts




‘the library for the birds of new york’ also includes ephemera related to the capture of live animals — such as cages and traps — referencing the hunt and trade of exotic birds. as a longtime environmentalist, dion’s work recognizes the repercussions of human impulse to dominate nature.


other imagery acts as a metaphor for death, extinction, and the classification of birds as pests or vermin. these historical groupings are juxtaposed by a subtle suggestion — that birds possess knowledge outside of the human experience. the animals in flight are clearly uninterested in the objects at their disposal, underscoring the absurdity of the installation’s purpose — a manmade library for birds, which intends to educate them in subjects such as geography and the natural world, of which they inherently have full command.

an 11 foot high white oak symbolizes philosophical and scientific ideas

other imagery acts as a metaphor for death and extinction

all of the media included is related to birds, sourced from popular culture, art history, and film

    have something to add? share your thoughts in our comments section below.
    all comments are reviewed for the purposes of moderation before publishing.

    comments policy
    LOG IN
    designboom's comment policy guidelines
    generally speaking, if we publish something, it's because we're genuinely interested in the subject. we hope you'll share this interest and if you know even more about it, please share! our goal in the discussion threads is to have good conversation and we prefer constructive opinions. we and our readers have fun with entertaining ones. designboom welcomes alerts about typos, incorrect names, and the like.
    the correction is at the discretion of the post editor and may not happen immediately.

    what if you disagree with what we or another commenter has to say?
    let's hear it! but please understand that offensive, inappropriate, or just plain annoying comments may be deleted or shortened.

    - please do not make racist, sexist, anti-semitic, homophobic or otherwise offensive comments.
    - please don't personally insult the writers or your fellow commenters.
    - please avoid using offensive words, replacing a few letters with asterisks is not a valid workaround.
    - please don't include your website or e-mail address in your comments for the purpose of self-promotion.
    - please respect jury verdicts and do not discuss offensively on the competition results
    (there is only one fist prize, and designboom usually asks renown professionals to help us to promote talent.
    in addition to the awarded designs, we do feel that almost all deserve our attention, that is why we publish
    the best 100-200 entries too.)

    a link is allowed in comments as long as they add value in the form of information, images, humor, etc. (links to the front page of your personal blog or website are not okay). unwelcome links (to commercial products or services of others, offensive material etc. ) will be redacted. and, ... yes, spam gets banned. no, we do not post fake comments.


    a diverse digital database that acts as a valuable guide in gaining insight and information about a product directly from the manufacturer, and serves as a rich reference point in developing a project or scheme.

    art news

    keep up with our daily and weekly stories
    504,066 subscribers
    - see sample
    - see sample
    designboom magazine