An editorial approachMike Nelson’s corridors and The Deliverance and The Patienceby Helen Hughes
This essay contrasts the contemporary British artist Mike Nelson’s approach to constructing his large, multi-room installations with his approach to editing the numerous artist books that he has produced since 2000. This comparison reveals several compositional symmetries between the two, namely pertaining to narrative non-linearity and meta-fictionality. The logic of montage is shown to similarly underscore both the books and the installations. This essay argues that the corridors connecting the different rooms of Nelson’s installations function in a similar way to the logic of montage: they play an integral role as the support that binds the structure of the installation (its multiple rooms) together as a whole. This essay argues that the corridor is the primary viewing framework of the installation for the viewer, and that this vantage point is significant because the necessarily partial vision of the installation from the space of the corridor demonstrates the logic of installation art more broadly. I conclude by mapping the key compositional elements of Nelson’s artist books onto his installations, taking the 2001 work The Deliverance and The Patience as a case study, to show that the books do not exemplify the artwork as with traditional exhibition catalogues, but rather parallel it. That is, a structural continuity is established between these two facets of his work.
Helen Hughes is a PhD candidate in Art History at the University of Melbourne. She is co-founder and co-editor of the Melbourne-based contemporary art journal Discipline, and an editor of emaj: online journal of art.