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Recalling the short-lived Bureau de Recherches Surréalistes of 1924−1925 − part information centre and ‘public relations’ office, and part surrealist archive − Mark Dion trawled through the Manchester Museum’s own collections and found the raw material for this book and a new installation for the museum. In February 2018 the installation will be part of a solo exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery: Theatre of the natural World.
Museums’ attempts to classify and present the world in miniature inevitably mean that much of their collections are forgotten and marginalized. Renowned for his work exploring taxonomy, archaeology and ecology, Mark Dion, in his Bureau documents his opportunistic encounters with the Museum of Manchester’s neglected drawers and overlooked recesses that are home to redundant labels, orphaned mounts, defunct teaching models, botanical freaks, Egyptian fakes and the minutiae that have fallen through the cracks of museum practice and lain abandoned. Dion’s Bureau of the Centre for the Study of Surrealism and its Legacy is both a repository for the detritus of museum life and a working process, classifying the museum’s un-classifiable whilst exploring the bureaucratic workings of the institution.
Essays by Anna Dezeuze, Julia Kelly and David Lomas
Originally published as part of Book Works Opus Projects (Opus 4) by Book Works and The AHRB Research Centre for the Studies of Surrealism and its Legacies in association with Alchemy/The Manchester Museum, The University of Manchester