wed 12/08/2020

Mike Nelson to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale | reviews, news & interviews

Mike Nelson to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Mike Nelson to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Certainly, same old is not something that can be said about Nelson. An installation artist, he creates what almost appear to be film sets, of films that never were and (hopefully) can never be. Or they are rooms that might have been abandoned after being used as a bolt-hole by your friendly neighbourhood psycho. In 2009 at the Tate’s triennial, his The Projection Room (Triple Bluff Canyon) turned a standard gallery installation inside-out. Instead of inviting the viewer into a space representing an artist’s vision, this simulation of a typical south-London Victorian terraced house had its access blocked, and the viewers were reduced to peering across a window sill at the still-life of life within, only to find a familiarity that was then violently ruptured at the back of the piece, where the objects spill out of a fissure in the wall, and a projector glared outward, pushing the viewer physically back.

Even creepier was his installation at the Hayward in 2008, where his To the Memory of HP Lovecraft (pictured above) gouged and clawed its way along, as though an animal, a poltergeist, a something had ravaged and ripped out the pristine white box of the gallery.

Nelson is a breath of air in a frequently stultifyingly publicity-hungry, post-Warholian cash-hungry world. He is represented by a not-for-profit gallery, his installations, while being spaces of wonder, appear (to me at least) to be entirely unsellable.

His installation The Coral Reef (2008) is on show at the moment at Tate Britain. So if you’re not going to make it to Venice, head for Pimlico instead.

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