Nouveau Musée National de Monaco

NOUVEAU MUSÉE NATIONAL DE MONACO | 56, boulevard du Jardin Exotique
MC 98000 Monaco

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artist / participant


press release

UBS building
2 avenue de Grande Bretagne

The Nouveau Musée National de Monaco presents an offsite project by Mike Nelson—Cloak—a site-specific intervention in the UBS building located on avenue de Grande-Bretagne in Monaco.

Mike Nelson is known for his immersive installations, which often play on socio-political preconceptions and subvert the viewer's sense of place. Informed by fiction, his practice develops parallel realities where various determinants of life and everyday existence conflate to create new understandings and question existing perspectives. For NNMN's project at the UBS Monaco building, which is currently closed for renovation, the artist has rendered all that is visible within the abandoned bank ultramarine blue.

As the economic value embeds colour within the ancient trading networks, ultramarine blue references a rare commodity, and exists in the world of luxury goods. These two things—economic value and luxury goods—are both closely associated with Monaco. Along with its associated ideas of value and currency, the Eastern source of this colour's historical extraction further reverberates uncomfortably with current events in the world today. The sense of immersion over the seven floors of the building into the world of blue is quite mesmeric—almost hallucinogenic. The effect is that of intoxication: a dreamlike situation that induces mental states that mimic the unreality that one has entered. Ultimately the visitors are led to the sun-bleached roof terrace. There they are allowed to rest and survey the sea beyond, before being immersed back into the cloak of deep blue, an underworld akin to that of the ocean, or perhaps trapped inside the parameters of a blue screen. The sensation is contradictory inducing feelings of both suffocation and enlightenment, offering a glimpse of the potentiality of invisibility and the infinite.

Over the past 20 years, Mike Nelson's work has centered on the transformation of narrative structure to spatial structure, and on the objects placed within them, immersing the viewer and agitating their perception of these environments. The narratives employed by the artist are not linear or teleological, but multi-layered, and often fractured to the extent that they could be described as a semblance of "atmospheres," put together to give a sense of meaning. The more discrete sculptural works are informed by this practice, often relying on their ambiguity to fade in and out of focus, as a sculpture or thing of meaning, and back to the very material itself. By working in this way the more overtly political aspects of the early works have become less didactic, allowing for an ambiguity of meaning, both in the way that they are experienced and understood. This has led to the possibility of the viewer being coerced into an understanding of the varied structures of their existence, both conscious and sub-conscious. Nelson represented Britain at the Venice Biennale in 2011 and has twice been nominated for the Turner Prize: first in 2001 and again in 2007. Born in Loughborough (UK) in 1967, Mike Nelson lives and works in London.

This project was produced in collaboration with Galleria Franco Noero, Turin.