Exhibition /
“An Ordinall of Alchimy” Organized by Mark Dion and Robert Williams

Dates: 30 March–17 April 2010
Location: Cabinet, 300 Nevins Street, Brooklyn, NY
Gallery hours: Tuesday to Saturday­, 12–6 pm, and by appointment

Opening reception: Saturday, 27 March, 7–9 pm
Panel discussion with Mark Dion, Sal Randolph, McKenzie Wark, and Robert Williams: Saturday, 27 March, 6–7 pm

Listen to an audio recording of this program, or download here.
00:00 / 00:00

“An Ordinall of Alchimy” is a Mildred’s Lane project organized by Mark Dion & Robert Williams, with Matt Bettine, Joey Cruz, Kathryn Cornelius, Gabriella D’Italia, Scott Jarrett, Aislinn Pentecost-Farren, John Wanzel, Laura E. Wertheim, and Bryan Wilson.

The exhibition inaugurates “999,” an occasional series of exhibitions presented by Cabinet in which artists are invited to assemble work under a single constraint: everything installed in the gallery must have been acquired on Ebay for a total of less than $999. When the exhibition comes down, its contents are offered for sale as a single item, once again on Ebay.

In 2009, Mark Dion, Robert Williams, and their students at the Pennsylvania artists’ colony Mildred’s Lane used Cabinet’s invitation as an opportunity to explore the theme of alchemical transformation. “An Ordinall of Alchimy” comprises the objects they assembled, a collection keyed to the seven basic processes of practical alchemy: Calcination, Fixation, Solution, Distillation, Sublimation, Separation, and Projection.

In conjunction with the opening of the exhibition, Sal Randolph and McKenzie Wark will join Dion and Williams for a panel discussion titled “Spinning Straw into Gold—Art, Value, and the Alchemical Collector.”

Generous support for this exhibition has been provided by Paul Singh. Gabriella D’Italia’s participation is funded in part by a grant from the Maine Arts Commission, an independent state agency supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.

For a PDF of the press release for this exhibition, including a detailed listing of the items purchased on Ebay, click here.

After a stay in Philadelphia at Slought Foundation, “An Ordinall of Alchimy” went up for auction on Ebay.

About the Organizers and Panelists
Mark Dion is an artist based in Pennsylvania. His work examines the ways in which dominant ideologies and public institutions shape our understanding of history, knowledge, and the natural world. Appropriating archaeological and other scientific methods of collecting, ordering, and exhibiting objects, Dion creates works that question the distinctions between “objective” scientific methods and “subjective” influences.

Sal Randolph lives in New York and makes art involving gift economies, social interactions, public spaces and publishing, including Opsound, an open exchange of copyleft music; the Free Biennial and Free Manifesta, a pair of open “biennials”; Free Words, a book infiltrated into bookstores and libraries; and Money Actions, an ongoing series of interventions in which she has given away several thousand dollars to members of the public. See salrandolph.com for more information.

McKenzie Wark is the author of A Hacker Manifesto (Harvard UP), Gamer Theory (Harvard UP), and various other things. He teaches at the New School for Social Research.

Robert Williams is an artist & academic based in the UK, where he is the head of the Fine Art Programme at Cumbria Institute of the Arts/University of Cumbria since 1998. Williams’s interdisciplinary practice encompasses an interest in epistemology and systems of knowledge, from the hermetic to the scientific.