Illuminated: Artist research

Mike Nelson

The artist I have decided to look at is Mike Nelson and his installation, ‘The Coral Reef’, 2000. The installation is made up of 15 rooms, lights, columns, chairs, mirrors, printed papers and other materials. The Coral Reef is a very large architectural installation which consists of 15 rooms with connecting corridors. The audience are left alone to walk around the installation with no directed path, visitors can spend as much time as they would like in the installation, however, there is only room for a limited amount of people at one time.

The title of the work, ‘The Coral Reef’, is a reference to large natural structures that are found under the sea. Nelson has connected the work to basic structures of beliefs- whether religious, political, social or economic- that individuals hold in a way that is mostly subconscious.

The way Nelson allows the viewers to explore the installation alone is something I find intriguing as there is no explanation to hear when viewing the different rooms, letting them think of possibilities for why certain objects are used.

Above are a few rooms in the installation, for example, a cab office. Each room is set up in a scene which allows viewers to imagine what is going on.  While talking about the work, Nelson has said, “the feeling of confusion and disorientation that viewers experience in the network of rooms is an analogy for the fact that belief, while giving individuals an illusion of freedom, is in fact deeply restrictive”. I think the concept of having a confusion but also a feeling of freedom within the work piece is very interesting as I would imagine it is like being in a maze.

I chose to look at Nelson’s, Coral Reef, as the work is very similar to a part of a triptych my group are looking at creating as we want to set up a scene using objects that will hopefully show the viewer what is going on, with an element of confusion.

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Author: emiliasfineartblog

BA (Hons) Fine Art Student studying at Cardiff Metropolitan University

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