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

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and get the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the February 2002 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.