In autumn 2012 Mike Nelson exhibited his installation 408 tons of imperfect geometry at Malmö Konsthall. The work consisted of cast concrete blocks placed on the floor in a geometric pattern. The blocks’ weight was calculated so that it – plus the visitors – could only just be supported by the exhibition hall’s floor. The pattern created by the blocks was an expression of Nelson’s long-term interest in design via the Arts and Crafts movement and its roots back to Oriental culture, in particular Islamic forms and patterns. The same concrete blocks that were created for Malmö Konsthall’s exhibition have been used to create a new work for Kalkbrottet (Limhamn limestone quarry, now a municipal nature reserve within the City of Malmö).
Imperfect geometry for a concrete quarry consists of approximately 3,500 concrete blocks laid out in their strict repetitive geometric pattern. Here, Nelson allows the suggestive and enigmatic patterns of Oriental art to encounter and tie in with Western art’s rational minimalism. The work influences us physically through its weight and size but also intellectually via its almost meditative nature. In the raw concrete surface each block bears traces of its own process of inception and production. The work’s placement in Kalkbrottet adds yet another dimension through its location being the very source of one of the main constituents of concrete, that of limestone. Now redundant, the encroaching wilderness is reflected in the structural complexity attempted by the sculptural form laid out across the quarry’s floor, poised to spread further in any direction it can find purchase. The physical nature of the work seems strangely fitting to the site, reinforcing a sense of servitude that one might feel about its very making - something echoed in the site returning to nature after its creation through man’s industry.
Mike Nelson works with the artistic creative process in an almost ritualistic way and with a mechanical dedication. His sculptures and labyrinthine, meticulously constructed architectural installations, reveal his interest in the secretive and mysterious; a fascination for what is not immediately familiar. The reverberations of this work focus upon the historical and the meditative, examining our visceral relatioNship to the material world we inhabit by agitating our understanding of our current stasis within it.
Mike Nelson (b. 1967 in Loughborough, England) lives and works in London. He represented the UK at the Venice Biennale in 2011 and his works have been presented in many group and solo exhibitions around the world, including A Psychic Vacuum, Creative Time, New York 2007; Le Cannibale (Parody, Consumption and Institutional Critique), Villa Arson, Nice 2008; Tate Triennal 2009; Psycho Buildings, Hayward Gallery, London 2008; The caves of misplaced geometry, Galleria Franco Noero, Turin 2009; 303 Gallery, New York 2010, 2015; Amnesiac Hide, The Power Plant, Toronto 2014 plus a number of biennials (Venice 2001, Sydney 2002, Istanbul 2003, São Paolo 2004, Singapore 2011, Lyon 2015).