Mike Nelson: Extinction Beckons, δημοσίευση στο Studio International [23/3/2023]
Hayward Gallery, London
22 February – 7 May 2023
A spectacular survey of the British artist is brutally bleak and awe-inspiringly complex. It might also be the most fun you’ll have at an exhibition all year
In recent years, the Tate Britain’s Duveen Gallery has arguably overtaken the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall as London’s prime venue for spectacular contemporary installations, and Mike Nelson’s The Asset Strippers (2019) was the best of them all. Nelson (b1967, Loughborough) filled the lengthy neoclassical throughway with machines from East Midlands factories, bought in online liquidation sales.
Tate Britain became a graveyard for the industrial past, with heavy air – some critics might say heavy-handed – and a distinctive metallic tang. These redundant machines spoke to a world of labour now lost, composing a requiem for the age of manufacturing long since declined. Despite the machines’ importance in Britain’s postwar economy, I (and I imagine many others at the exhibition) had little clue of how any of these machines functioned. Knowledge that was once crucial has been lost.
A handful of these machines appear in Extinction Beckons, Nelson’s new survey exhibition at the Hayward Gallery. Given room to breathe, here they become even more sculptural: one machine looks like a reclining nude, another like a sort of Moai. But while their Tate debut was almost oppressively funereal, here they serve as something of a respite after a series of works of astonishing bleakness. Untitled (Public Sculpture for a Redundant Space) (2016) comprises a sleeping bag filled with rubble and concrete from a building site. It lays corpse-like on the Hayward’s tiled floor, next to a piece of wood resembling a crucifix, a brutal symbol of London’s relentless development. Extinction indeed seems to beckon.
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