Erik Clapp’s documentary The Perilous Texas Adventures of Mark Dion premiers this Saturday, March 7 at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art. The film was commissioned by the museum and serves as a travelogue for the exhibition of the same title on view through May 17, 2020. The premiere (2 p.m.) and the subsequent panel discussion are part of the free, daylong exhibition celebration, A Day of Perilous Adventures, on Saturday, March 7 from 11 a.m.–4 p.m.
Clapp’s 58-minute documentary follows artist Mark Dion as he retraced the footsteps of four nineteenth-century artist-explorers in Texas to create the Carter commissioned exhibition, The Perilous Texas Adventures of Mark Dion. Traveling different regions of Texas, Dion collected a curious array of objects to form his large-scale installation. This film showcases Texas through the eyes of a Yankee’s first visit as Dion creates a sculptural inventory of found items uniting the present and past of artistic exploration. From a descendant of King Ranch to a Comanche poet, Dion was joined by numerous guides to gain an insider’s perspective on the great state of Texas. Not only does this documentary examine how Dion’s exhibition was made, but it shows the explorative spirit of Dion and his predecessors in Texas as he ventures through distinct parts of the region enduring unfamiliar climates, discovering vibrant cultures, and meeting unique characters.
Immediately following the screening, Carter curator Maggie Adler will be joined by Clapp and two of the Texans who journeyed with Dion during his travels: Matt Kleberg and herbarium collection manager from the Botanical Research Institute of Texas, Tiana Rehman. Panelists will give a behind-the-scenes discussion on what it was like to work with Dion and will further explore the collection process that resulted in this innovative new exhibition.
The film premiere does not require a ticket, but reservations are recommended as seating is on a first-come, first-served basis. Reservations can be made online at cartermuseum.org/DionDay. A full schedule of events including the film screening is available online. The film will be featured Sundays through May 17 from 11 a.m.–5 p.m. in the museum’s Auditorium accompanying the exhibition presentation.
One of the most highly regarded artists working today, Mark Dion is part explorer and part historian, part naturalist and part collector of curiosities. His large-scale installations evoke the past in their materials and ethos, but they address today’s culture head-on with intellect and humor. Dion retraces the footsteps of several 19th-century explorers in Texas: artist and ornithologist John James Audubon, watercolorist Sarah Ann Lillie Hardinge, architect Frederick Law Olmsted, and botanist Charles Wright. Along the way, Dion collected materials to form a site-specific exhibition you can see only at the Carter. The result of his adventures is an immersive exhibition created by Dion coupled with works on paper, paintings, and archival materials from the Carter’s collection. More than 150 years after the Texas explorers he followed, Mark Dion enhances our understanding of the past and ultimately brings it to life in the present day. The Perilous Texas Adventures of Mark Dion is on view through May 17, 2020.