After a brief sojourn under the gallery lights we open a door and enter yet another immersive installation, the biggest and most impressive in the exhibition. This one is a maze of corridors and a different room lies behind every door - one resembling a 1980s travel agent’s office with an unmanned counter and a New York snowglobe, while another is a bar where a sign informs us it’s aboard Star Ferry in Hong Kong and asks ‘please do not spit’.
Every visitor will follow a different journey through this labyrinth, with the lucky ones finding the door that leads up some stairs to look over the entire installation from a higher vantage point. The installation references politics and colonialism but it’s left for every visitor to form their own narrative around this piece. Even though it was newly installed for the show the walls have been broken down, the place has a musty smell and if there weren’t ceiling and desktop fans whirring it could get very hot claustrophobic in here.
Exploring every facet of the installation will leave visitors with more questions than when they entered and they’ll likely still be mulling it over long after they’ve left the show - it’s the kind of experience that makes us want to sit down with our fellow visitors and analyse over multiple cups of coffee.
It’s impressive that this is all only the first half of this major exhibition that also contains a bunker in among a mountain of sand that feels post-apocalyptic, and when visitors venture inside the same red light greets us - this time in an actual darkroom with photographs hanging from wires in the enclosed space.
This exhibition feels like a labour of love and that artist Mike Nelson has thrown everything at it. It purposefully fires our imaginations to create our own interpretations of his work and that’s for the best as this ambitious exhibition is a great example of how contemporary conceptual art can be immersive, thought-provoking and memorable.
Mike Nelson: Extinction Beckons at Hayward Gallery. 22 February - 7 May, £15-16
Photos: Matt Greenwood. Courtesy the artist and the Hayward Gallery.
|What||Mike Nelson at Hayward Gallery - review|
|Where||Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Waterloo (underground)|
22 Feb 23 – 07 May 23, 10:00 AM – 5:00 PM
|Website||CLICK HERE TO BOOK|