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1000 WORDS: MIKE NELSON

On the phone with Mike Nelson, I note that my typescript of our conversation begins at the end and travels backward. He's not surprised: Serpentlike, Nelson's installations are forever nipping at their own tail. In his 2001 Turner Prize display, a maze of narrow corridors spiraled around a dimly lit store of old doors, shabby furniture, yellowing newspapers, a battle-scarred game machine, and other detritus: apparent junk that an accompanying text (and a telltale white-coral fan) identified as the dismembered carcass of Nelson's Coral Reef, 2000. But the Tate installation's involutions corkscrewed tighter still; its floor plan mimicked that of an even earlier work, the 1996 Matt's Gallery project Trading Station Alpha CMa, a deserted hideout whose hypothetical occupant apparently passed his time reading Lenin and (a Borgesian detail) gnawing on raw bones.

However, this reflexivity isn't an

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