by Rose Elle

The installation below is titled: To the Memory of H.P. Lovecraft, 1999, 2008, by Michael Nelson.  Nelson is a contemporary British installation artist who was nominated twice for the Turner Prize. Born in Loughborough in 1967, lives and works in London.

I appreciate art, but sometimes I just don’t ‘get’ a piece of artwork or an installation.

Recently I visited the Miami Art Musuem for the first time and while it was an interesting hour plunged into contemporary art works, I found one installation quite puzzling. It was Carlos Bunga: Metamorphosis which featured two large-scale, site-specific structures created from perishable materials (cardboard), and supposesdly explores the continuous mutation of architecture and urban space.

To me and my fellow viewers (two friends) it was simply painted cardboard. Funny thing, my friend walked into the room and said “Oh there’s nothing here”, and proceeded to walk out when I called out – ‘No, this is one of the exhibits”. She thought they were working on the room, as if it were under construction. That was the highlight of that exhibit.

As hard as I tried to appreciate the work, it evoked nothing from me. I was staring at purple, green, and orange painted cardboard. The thing I did appreciate was the fact that someone would even think of putting together pieces of cardboard as Carlos Bunga had. The blurb on the wall explaining the installation went into such grand detail about structure and space and urban shifts and so on and forth. But it made no difference…I understood none of that vision.

Why am I saying all this…because this installation by Mike Nelson, like Carlos Bunga’s, is a grand example of art I do not understand. All I see is destroyed walls. Maybe my artistic intelligence isn’t as grand as those who would understand it. Who knows.

Here is a shot of the ‘cardboard’ exhibit which I speak of: