Like most children, I was fascinated with dinosaurs. There was a magic to knowing that these creatures, which look so much like figments of our imaginations, were actually once alive. Alive so long ago, that a child like me cold not even understand how far back time can stretch. The Brontosaurus is one of the quintessential dinosaurs. Every boy I knew growing up had a plastic version of this dinosaur. I did. I also read every book I could find on ancient life and spent hours in the New York State Museum fascinated with the dioramas of reconstructed ancient sea life that were on display there.
With “Brontosaurus,” Mark Dion taps into that childhood sense of wonder of time before time and what was living then. His Brontosaur is actually modeled on the version that was created in the late 19th century, and the version that most children born before the 1980s were familiar with. (New research points to a creature that is less bulky and holds its head and tail parallel to the ground.)
It is also the logo for Sinclair Oil, which adds an environmental dimension to the sculpture. Hidden inside the pedestal, there are cleaning implements: a pail, whisk broom, dust pan, rags, further pointing to an environmental message and the oil industry’s part in the destruction of habitat. So in addition to reviving our childhood sense of wonder in the excitement of dinosaurs, nostalgia for old museums and toys; Dion pokes at us to remember that dinosaurs are extinct and much of the life on earth is under threat at our hands.
Arthur Bruso © 2017