Experiment 20



September 18, 2015 - January 2, 2016


The Trouble with Jellyfish is a contemporary art installation by Mark Dion.  Across the world’s seas, jellyfish blooms of impressive magnitude are signaling ecological disturbances and a dramatic deterioration of the marine environment.  While these troubles are beginning to garner public attention, what to do remains unclear. Mark Dion, working with students in David Edwards’ Harvard University class, and the marine biologist Lisa-ann Gershwin, decided to do an experiment.


This exhibition explores jellyfish as seen historically through culture, the marine biological challenges associated with jellyfish and degrading ocean biodiversity, the notion of a dead zone and our roles in their global emergence, and what, if anything, we might do to move toward a saner and safer ocean environment tomorrow.  In recent years, jellyfish have gained notoriety for wreaking havoc as they multiply en masse—a phenomenon that scientists are still working to understand more fully. The Trouble with Jellyfish helps the public understand this creature and its associated ecological destruction by bringing awareness and discussion to the emerging issue. 


The Trouble with Jellyfish is sponsored in part by the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering.


This exhibition is presented in partnership with the New England Aquarium.


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About Mark Dion

Mark Dion received a BFA (1986) and an honorary doctorate (2003) from the University of Hartford, School of Art, Connecticut. Dion’s work examines the ways in which dominant ideologies and public institutions shape our understanding of history, knowledge, and the natural world. He has received numerous awards, including the ninth annual Larry Aldrich Foundation Award (2001). He has had major exhibitions at Miami Art Museum (2006); the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2004); the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut (2003); and Tate Gallery, London (1999). "Neukom Vivarium" (2006), a permanent outdoor installation and learning lab for the Olympic Sculpture Park, commissioned by the Seattle Art Museum. 

About Lisa-ann Gershwin

Lisa-ann Gershwin is a biologist based in Launceston, Tasmania, specializing in the study of jellyfish and the species’ adverse effect on marine ecosystems. Gershwin has described over 200 species of jellyfish and developed a system to predict blooms of the hazardous Irukandji jellyfish in North Queensland. In 2013, Gershwin released Stung!: On Jellyfish Blooms and the Future of the Ocean, a book describing the diversity and adaptability of jellyfish, and their increasing numbers at the expense of other organisms worldwide.