2022 art recap: reimagining the future of arts
by Vatsala SethiDec 31, 2022
•make your fridays matter with a well-read weekend
by Shraddha NairPublished on : Apr 01, 2023
In an exhibition curated by Hayward Gallery, a series of reworked originals by Mike Nelson are presented to the viewers under the title Mike Nelson: Extinction Beckons. The solo exhibition that commenced on February 22, 2023, will be on view until May 7, 2023. Nelson has been a part of several large exhibitions like the 54th Venice Biennale, the 13th Biennale of Sydney, 8th Istanbul Biennale and 13th Lyon Biennale. Unlike these, Extinction Beckons is a deep survey of Nelson’s oeuvre—the artist’s dialogue with his creations. For the show, the British artist salvages materials from flea markets, scrap yards, junk shops and auctions to reconstruct his existing works. “The idea of reworking an art installation, to me, was an intriguing thought for a number of reasons. When bringing to life an artistic effort, it’s always tricky knowing when to stop working and when to stand back and appreciate the creation as is. When you return to a long-finished work with intention to build upon it further, how does one overcome the resistance, the fear of destroying what already exists? Furthermore, the process of birthing a work of art results in a part of yourself being immortalised in this external form. In going back to edit—are we editing a part of ourselves too?” interogates Yung Ma, the in-house art curator at Hayward Gallery.
The exhibition holds work which are reimagined and reconfigured in order to engage with the spatial aspects of Hayward’s galleries. The art exhibition focuses on showcasing the spectrum of the installation artist’s sculptural practice, with some of the works more drastically altered than others. Ma explains to STIR, "This idea of reworking and revisiting earlier works has been a recurring gesture in Nelson's practice. So, when we began the conversation with Mike about organising a survey, it was clear that this approach would become the starting point of how we could build our conceptual and physical framework.” The revisiting of these works provides a consistency to Nelson’s practice, and a continuing narrative for the viewer. But how does this body of work present itself to the curator, who is tasked with navigating the present and past of the artist’s practice?
Ma says, “In many ways, this is a survey exhibition comprising a series of newly produced works. So, as a team, we were constantly working with two different models at the same time. The sheer scale of it all has been an ambitious undertaking, from the logistics of bringing everything to London to essentially producing artworks against a rather compressed timeframe. We were literally making ‘buildings’ in the gallery. I am immensely proud of what the team has achieved and that we are able to present this unique and transformative experience to our audiences.” Mike Nelson: Extinction Beckons represents the spectrum of emotions that fill the human experience. The installations mirror the chaos, diversity, and entropy that life embodies.
Triple Bluff Canyon (2004) is an immersive experience; imagine entering a room filled with sand and strewn with used rubber tyres and other objects. The sight itself invites the notion of decay and disintegration. Thoughts of the Anthropocene weigh heavily on the installations, at this showcase. The use of scrap and thrifted artefacts adds a layer of materiality to the exhibition's overall aesthetic while referencing various cultures and histories. The symbolism here goes beyond its intrinsic value, highlighting instead the inherent chaos of built culture.
The Deliverance and the Patience is an immersive installation which was originally developed for the Venice Biennale, that took place in 2001. Reformulated for Hayward Gallery, the revised work incorporates an altar which has an image of an Indian spiritual guru named Sai Baba alongside skulls of small animals, busts of Egyptian pharaohs and a Kathakali dancer on the same table. It begs the viewer to question symbolism, cultural imagery, bias and association—Isn’t it remarkable how these symbols are present in our awareness? Is it possible they are imprinted within us through evolution itself? These questions allude to ideas of dream archetypes, ‘the hero’s journey' and subconscious symbolism, as described in Carl Jung’s book Man And His Symbols (1964).
The curator, Ma concludes, “Since this is the first-ever survey of Mike Nelson’s luminous career, it is imperative to present the incredible breadth of his practice through a selection of his key works over the last thirty years.” The works on display range from his early multi-room immersive installations to the more recent large-scale sculptural works, many of which have never been seen by the UK public, until now. Nelson plays with spatial elements as well as elements of scale, providing a dynamic set-up for viewers to engage with. While it seems to depict a rather bleak vision of the human experience, Nelson’s artworks also include a sense of sardonic irony and humour which invites the occasional dry chuckle from visitors of Mike Nelson: Extinction Beckons.
by Rosalyn D`Mello Jun 02, 2023
Viewing the exhibition Niki De Saint Phalle in the company of a sea of random visitors contributed to the visceral gush the fleshy works innately evoke.
by Dilpreet Bhullar Jun 01, 2023
The documentary photographer Ciril Jazbec has embraced the value of nature to talk about the rising adversity around climate change in his photographic art practice.
by Dilpreet Bhullar May 29, 2023
Norwegian contemporary artist Hanne Friis responds to changing the way of life with the pandemic, specifically around the use of material in our urban lives.
by Manu Sharma May 26, 2023
Russian artist Maxim Zhestkov discusses his virtual reality project that blurs various creative disciplines.
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