Where's the frame
April 4, 2023 1:52 PM
"Extinction Beckons," Mike Nelson's latest exhibition that opened last week at the Hayward Gallery, takes visitors on a thrilling - yet bordering terrifying - journey into fictive worlds that are eerie reflections of our own.
It feels like we’re walking around in a post-apocalyptic universe where people have left everything behind. Using materials scavenged from salvage yards, auctions, and flea markets, Nelson's installations have a startling life-like quality. The immersive experiences are filled with remnants of lives once lived, dereliction, and emptiness, all woven together with references to science fiction, failed political movements, dark histories, and countercultures. The installations touch on alternative ways of living and thinking, lost belief systems, interrupted histories, and cultures that resist inclusion in a homogenized and globalized world.
The exhibition features sculptural works and new versions of key large-scale installations, many of which are being shown for the first time since their original presentations. The show is genuinely brilliant, compelling, disconcerting, and atmospheric, all beautifully judged and perfectly paced. The exhibition has received excellent reviews, with The Observer describing it as a "maze of masterful installations" and The Telegraph stating it is "dense, absorbing, and disorienting." Mike Nelson has represented Great Britain at the Venice Biennale in 2011 and has shown his work in leading galleries worldwide.
In all of these ghostly post-apocalyptic environments, Nelson casts the viewer as the main character in some disconcerting old film, a Western traveller through foreign lands that don't want them. Nelson's installations are enthralling and movie-like, inviting the viewer to build a narrative and figure out what happened and what went wrong. But no conclusive answers are found, leading to a horrific uncertainty that is all too familiar to our world today.