Galleria Franco Noero

10154, TORINO

Mike Nelson
The caves of misplaced geometry

28 May — 12 October 2009

Mike Nelson is known for complex large scale installations created by layering elements drawn from literature, cinema, cultural and social symbols, evoking a sense of unreality suspended between mystery and marginality. Spaces, both in Museums and galleries, as well as off site redundant buildings, are each time radically transformed by architectural interventions. The effect is that of totally altering their original perception, and involving the visitor in the physical experience of a place that amplifies the concept of sculpture through the construction of labyrinthine sequences of rooms and the presence of disparate objects that lead to multiple associations and interpretations.

The artistʼs intervention in the Fetta di Polenta, From the outside, silently watching, exaggerates the psychological charge already perceptable within an historical building of extreme and radical architecture by choosing to isolate its interiors from the exterior by sealing all the windows of the exhibition floors as if they never existed, a gesture reminiscent of Poe. Short stories will form the pretext for Nelson to catch the essence of the building, alternating it and identifying new peculiarities making reference to three in particular: ʻThe Burrowʼ by Kafka, ʻThe Enormous Spaceʼ by Ballard and ʻThere are more thingsʼ by Borges. The anxious necessity of becoming isolated, of being protected, of discovering an intricate inner path, of evoking the traces of past stories and the adding of new ones, are all aspects that link the fictionality to the disorienting reality of Nelsonʼs installation.

The shift of perception and narrative accumulation are also characteristic of AMNESIAC SHRINE or platform ruin, exhibited in the space of Piazza Santa Giulia 0/F. Nelson continues his work started in the ʻ90s by a fictional biker gang created by him to explore loss, genre and sculptural installation. ʻThe Amnesiacsʼ returned in 2006 to help construct a series of shrines in which structures and motifs from art history are remembered as if through flash back and used as objects might be used in the construction of a shrine dedicated to a belief system such as voodoo or condoble. Platform Ruin is a structure made out of old wooden planks in between a door and a trap, a displaced object from a big installation exhibited last year at the Hayward Gallery. Initially built as a lid to the Museumʼs staircase, from its horizontal position it has become displaced to create a series of walls. Occupying the entire height of the exhibition space it creates a new geometry, as does the cutting into the corner by the light of two projectors. Works of other artists are present more as a half memory than a homage: Large Table Ruin by Dieter Roth, the cutting and light works of Gordon Matta-Clark and James Turrell respectively, are invoked in the shrine.

Untitled # 22 (High Plains Drifter) (1993) is a long term installation in Piazza Santa Giulia 5. Conceived as a parody on Niele Toroniʼs brush stroke works, Nelsonʼs conceit was that his practice exists only as the painting of a given room red, not through his relationship with colour or abstraction but through his obsession with “High Plains Drifter”, a Clint Eastwood western from 1973 in which the small American town of Lago becomes a metaphor of life in Hell as the inhabitants are forced to literally paint the town red. The work parodies what was itself a parody, as Eastwood directs himself in the part of the avenging loner in a direct reference back to his character within the Leone trilogy from the 60ʼs. Following the artistʼs precise instructions, a room is painted in a specific tone of red, all objects, litter and dust are included as a temporal cristallization and jump into a displaced realm.


Mike Nelson (born in Loughborough, England) lives and works in London. Nelson represented Britain at the Venice Biennale in 2011 and his work has been presented in major group and solo exhibitions throughout the world, among which: 'A Forgotten Kingdom', ICA, London, UK (2001); 'Triple Bluff Canyon', Modern Art Oxford, Oxford, UK (2004); Turner Contemporary, Margate, UK (2005); 'A Psychic Vacuum', Creative Time, New York, USA (2007); Turner Prize, Tate Liverpool, UK (2007); 'Eclipse: Art in a Dark Age', Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Sweden (2008); 'Psycho Buildings', Hayward Gallery, London, UK (2008); 'Kristus och Judas: a structural conceit (a performance in three parts)', Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenaghen, Denmark (2009); 'Altermodern', Tate Triennial, Tate Britain, London, UK (2009); 'Journey With No Return', Akbank Cultural Centre, Istanbul, Turkey (2009); 'The caves of misplaced geometry', Galleria Franco Noero, Turin, Italy (2009); 'The Coral Reef', Tate Britain, London, UK (2010); 'September 11', MoMA PS1, New York, USA (2011); '408 tons of imperfect geometry', Malmö Konsthall, Malmo, Sweden (2012); 'M6', Eastside Projects, Birmingham, UK (2013); CAG, Vancouver, Canada (2013); 'Amnesiac Hide', The Power Plant, Toronto, Canada (2014); 'Studio apparatus for Kunsthalle Münster', Kunsthalle Münster, Germany (2014); '80 Circles through Canada', Tramway, Glasgow, UK (2014); 'Sensory Spaces 8', Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Holland (2016); 'Imperfect geometry for a concrete quarry', Kalkbrottet, Limhamn, Malmö, Sweden (2016); 'Cloak', Nouveau Musée National de Monaco, Principality of Monaco (2016); 'Wanderlust', High Line, New York, USA (2016). He has been invited to participate to the Biennales of: Venice 2001, Sydney 2002, Istanbul 2003, São Paulo 2004, Singapore 2011, Lyon 2015.

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