Former reading Fine Art undergraduate student Mike Nelson is to represent Britain at the Venice Bienniale 2011. The British Council announced Mike Nelson, who graduated with first class honours in 1990, as Britain’s representative at Venice next year.
Nelson’s installations typically exist only for the time period of the exhibition which they were made for. They are generally extended labyrinths, which the viewer is free to find their own way through, and in which the locations of the exit and entrance are often difficult to determine. Nelson has built a body of work that has involved travelling to different locales for varying periods of time: geographically spread from Bucharest to Copenhagen, socially and culturally diverse as Berwick-upon-Tweed and Amsterdam. The pieces have all involved a period of inhabitation and intensive work, ranging from two weeks to six months. References to the site are made sometimes cultural or actual, others fictional or to the circumstances of the show. These mix with other information from film and literature, personal experience and real political situations to construct an idiosyncratic language, often attributed to a fictional “other”: a dog with a human mind, a motorcycle gang called the Amnesiacs, or a renegade band of refugees. Such tales of alienation and otherness are at the core of Mike Nelson’s concerns.
Ralph Rugoff, director of the Hayward Gallery said:
He often makes connections in his art that, whether cultural or social or even political, are not that obvious. They require a certain amount of work on the viewer’s part. There’s a great freedom in the way his imagination roams over so many cultural territories and teases certain associations from the audience. He’s doing what all great artists do, asking people to look differently – but doing it in a very intimate, and often demanding, way.