Critics’ Picks

Installation view, 2006.

Installation view, 2006.


Mike Nelson

Matt's Gallery
92 Webster Road
June 7–July 30, 2006

Invoking his mythical biker gang, the Amnesiacs, to help with his latest installation, British artist Mike Nelson has created a sparse, imposing structure of chicken wire, wood, and plaster. With just one tightly sprung door allowing both entrance to and exit from this flimsy cage, Nelson’s “amnesiac shrine” offers little choice in movement through the space. The transparent structure directs visitors along a spiraling path through a series of passageways and triangular rooms littered with a series of pyres, brittle and charred wood, and five lumpy white plaster globes, each with a gaping hole reminiscent of a swallow’s nest or a ghoulish face. All of the enormous white cells are dark and empty, save for one that glows with a soft red light. Nelson frames the inner sanctum with an outer shell made from the same materials, and directs one’s focus toward the space in between these two layers by covering the gallery’s columns, located in this liminal zone, with mirrors. Evoking superficial references to tribal rituals and meditation, while at the same time vaguely recalling architectural installations by Bruce Nauman and Dan Graham, Nelson (and his Amnesiacs) construct a blank, a reality that strives to forget.