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Artist enlists fictional biker gang for Rotterdam installation

Mike Nelson, Amnesiac Shrine at Tate Liverpool in 2007.

An immersive installation by the British artist Mike Nelson will be recreated at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam. The work (which has a long title: The Amnesiac Shrine or The Misplacement [a futurological fable]: Mirrored Cubes—Inverted—With the Reflection of Their Inner Psyche as Represented by a Metaphorical Landscape) is a part of an on-going series of installations that Nelson first conceived in the mid-1990s.

This specific installation was first assembled at Matt’s Gallery in London in 2006, where wire-fenced rooms held found objects such as Halloween masks, sticks and plastic jerrycans. The items were presented in a ceremonial animist context. The installation, along with another work that was presented at Frieze Projects in London in the same year, earned Nelson his second Turner Prize nomination in 2007. The work was also included in 2011 Venice Biennale.

Unlike the Matt's Gallery installation, the Dutch adaptation will include sand, mirrors and lighting as well as found objects to foster “revelations and discoveries through a physical, entropic experience,” says Francesco Stocchi, who organised the exhibition. It will present four closed rooms adjacent to one another and connected through two corridors, where visitors can look through peepholes and discover “stupefying panoramas,” Stocchi says.

Nelson conceived the work after being inspired by Soviet science fiction novelists like Stanslaw Lem and Boris Strugatsky, whose books stand as allegories about the human condition. In Nelson's work, the fictitious Amnesiacs are a biker gang of Gulf War veterans who spend their time scavenging and deciphering debris encoded with a secret language. Through the artist, the gang "creates" ominous, interpretative installations.

“I brought back the [gang] to help me build shrines,” the artist said in a press statement. By revisiting motifs and devices from past works, Nelson built the shrine the way that "a voodoo shrine might be built—a receptacle for ceremonial blood, or a cigarette, might become an offering to the gods.”

The installation is the 8th edition of the museum’s Sensory Spaces project, a series of immersive solo exhibitions by international artists intended to disrupt the experience of a given space.

• Mike Nelson: Sensory Spaces 8, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, 13 February-5 June
Venue details
Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen
Museumpark 18-20
Rotterdam 3015 CX
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