new-york

Mike Nelson

Essex Street

The title of A Psychic Vacuum, 2007, British artist Mike Nelson’s first large-scale project in the US, echoes that of Stanislaw Lem’s A Perfect Vacuum (1971). Lem’s text is a collection of reviews of nonexistent books; Nelson’s work might be described as resembling the set of an imaginary film. Revisiting the labyrinthine structure of his installation The Coral Reef, 2000, the Turner Prize–shortlisted artist here filled the interior of a long-disused building on Manhattan’s Lower East Side with a suite of interconnected rooms containing various arrangements of locally sourced found objects. The highly atmospheric result was an effective meditation on “the presence of absence,” the shadowy undercurrents of American belief, and the space between reality, representation, and replication.

Having negotiated the clamor of commissioning organization Creative Time’s official welcome (there was a

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