Mike Nelson: Extinction Beckons
Mike Nelson: 逝去的召喚

Hayward Gallery

02 Feb – o7 May 2023


The Hayward Gallery is currently showcasing a survey exhibition of large-scale immersive installations and sculptural works by acclaimed British artist Mike Nelson, titled “Extinction Beckons.” This exhibition features psychologically charged installations that transport viewers into captivating fictional worlds with a resemblance to our own. Nelson, who has represented Great Britain at the Venice Biennale and exhibited in various renowned galleries worldwide, aims to create immersive works that operate on multiple levels, including narrative, spatial aspect, and psychological effect on the senses.

Installation view of Mike Nelson, The Asset Strippers, 2019. Various materials. Photo: Matt Greenwood. Courtesy the artist and the Hayward Gallery.


This exhibition was a real challenge to make. Mike and his team spent four months in a warehouse in Kent before bringing all the thousands of pieces here and spending a month with 30 people working six days a week, seven days at the end to get this done. But without taking that extra step, you can never have this kind of experience.

The show starts with a display of storage that belongs to Mike’s installation for the 2011 Venice Biennale when he represented Britain. The exhibition ends with an enormous, sprawling, three-dimensional grid of rebar with concrete heads floating in it, which is a recreation of Mike’s former studios. The exhibition is about how an artist makes work, and Mike never tells us what things mean, but he creates these incredibly dense, rich situations where we can find many different kinds of meaning.

Throughout the show, you will see works that hint at disaster, violence, and disorientation. While some may find them slightly uneasy, I find them completely thrilling as they transport me into a fictional universe that mirrors our own.

Nelson creates very vivid, dense, atmospheric, richly detailed scenarios that allow our imaginations to wander. He’s not telling us what things mean or what narratives to create. Instead, we are free to piece together the clues and spin our own potential narratives.’ Ralph Rugoff, Director of Hayward Gallery, said.


Mike Nelson: Extinction Beckons. 2023. The Hayward Gallery.


At the ground floor space, visitors are greeted with Mike Nelson’s recreated artwork “The Deliverance and the Patience” (2001). This larybinthe-like work is comprised of a complex web of rooms and corridors, each with a unique interior, such as a gambling den, captain’s bar, and travel agent’s office. Moving through these spaces in quick succession creates a disorienting experience, more akin to the shifts in space and time found in literature, film, and dreams, rather than traditional architectural movement.

Although the rooms are empty, they convey an unsettling feeling, as if they were just vacated. While wandering through these spaces, visitors may encounter other viewers, which adds to the unique and eerie atmosphere of the scenes. Through these diverse spaces, Mike hints at a range of conflicting values and beliefs, painting a kaleidoscopic portrait of a society marked by ambiguity and impermanence. The title, “The Deliverance and The Patience,” alludes to a 17th-century shipwreck, where survivors – many of them prisoners or indentured labourers – tried to establish a new society in Bermuda before constructing new ships to continue their journey to Virginia.

According to Ralph, Nelson’s installations are theatrical and have incredible visceral impact, but they are also intellectually complex, with material complexity mirrored by the kind of illusions they create. The exhibit references people on the margins and fringes of society, summoning the ghosts of factory workers who lost their jobs when the roofing industry was outsourced overseas. In addition to the dark vision, there are also hints of humour throughout the show, often overlooked by people who write about it.

Constructed using materials gathered from salvage yards, junk shops, auctions, and flea markets, Nelson’s immersive installations possess a life-like quality that draws upon science fiction, failed political movements, dark histories, and countercultures. They explore alternative ways of living and thinking, including lost belief systems, interrupted histories, and cultures that resist inclusion in an increasingly homogenized and globalized world.

Mike Nelson. Photo: Arnaud Mbaki. Courtesy the Hayward Gallery and the artist.

Mike Nelson said,’ I follow a trajectory that is not didactic or political; I read fiction and found a more somber form of fiction. The equation of that fictive structure with a more rigid form of making art for others did not work, so I made more fun things that were far more loose and open. The multiple histories and people’s memories, and the works’ placement within their memories, makes the world far richer.

I am fascinated by the idea that I can build something that will disappear but still exist within people’s memories. The works can expand in that way, and that is why I am interested in the way matter can be reconfigured into something of meaning and then fall back into matter. The matter is almost as interesting as sculpture, and the process of it building up and falling down constantly.[…] I am not interested in creating pieces, but in reimagining them. That openness is unusual and a crucial part of my practice. I am not forced to do this because of my failures and successes.’

The Hayward Gallery has a long history of pushing boundaries and inspiring new ways of thinking about art. Mike Nelson’s exhibition “Extinction Beckons” has perfectly utilized and transformed the unique space of the Hayward Gallery, adding a bold new chapter to the already impressive portfolio of this acclaimed artist.It is a must-see for anyone interested in immersive art, science fiction, and exploring alternative ways of living and thinking.


Installation view of Mike Nelson, I, IMPOSTER, 2011. Various materials. Photo: Matt Greenwood. Courtesy the artist and the Hayward Gallery.


Mike Nelson: 逝去的召喚

Hayward Gallery 海沃德畫廊


英國國際知名藝術家邁克·納爾遜(Mike Nelson)的宏偉沉浸式裝置及雕塑作品首度在海沃德畫廊亮相。展覽《逝去的召喚(Extinction Beckons)》呈現了充滿心理張力和氛圍的裝置藝術,帶領觀眾踏入神奇的虛擬世界,與現實產生奇特的共鳴。展品極具創意地改變了畫廊空間,包含宏大雕塑以及納爾遜過去經典作品的全新詮釋。





在一樓的大廳,觀眾將踏入邁克2001年的作品《The Deliverance and the Patience》。















Installation view of Mike Nelson, The Asset Strippers (solstice), 2019. Hay rake, steel trestles, steel girders, sheet of steel, cast concrete slabs. Photo: Matt Greenwood. Courtesy the artist and the Hayward Gallery.



Edited 編輯 x Michelle Yu 余小悦


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