Photographs taken by Nadine Paige Riley
M6 – Mike Nelson at East Side Projects, Digbeth, Birmingham had a very peculiar impact on me when first entering into the room. The material (tyres) which is a common site on the M6 and other motorways, had been broken down and manipulated to create new forms, all of which varied in size and shape. The new forms of the tyres had, for me, a sense of horror to them- as if they were resembling some kind of inhuman thing. The tyres had lost their repetitive circular shape that is so recognisable when envisioning them. They seemed to be a experimental destruction of a familiar material, making the viewer become aware that such a strong material can be broken down. This then referring to the destruction of the M6 itself.
Another thing that made me think when viewing the work was the way in which the objects were presented and the room itself. I remember hearing one woman say ”now that’s a white cube for you!” when entering the space and I remember completely agreeing. The room was so bright and empty that it almost seemed out of focus, and the large black objects in the centre of this huge white space were bold, powerful and completely in focus. The contrast between the space and work was incredible, each bit of detail and manipulation of the material became obvious. The work itself was placed on a slightly higher slab of concrete in the centre of the room, leaving a small space to walk around it. From each angle, the piece would look different and this was a incentive to walk around the enter piece as if you were being directed.
In terms of our show, the viewer being directed is something quite important in order to receive a message that is not so obviously made anywhere- the documentation of life through the different stages in life. At East Side Projects, the path was already created for the viewer. The group had spoke about placing objects into the space to create a sort of path in which the viewer has to follow- for example easels and works placed on the fall/near to the floor etc. M6 is a great example of a successful white cube space and without obviously doing so, a order in which the work is viewed.
Another thing which I looked at associated to the M6 exhibition at East Side Projects was the press release– http://eastsideprojects.org/exhibitions/mike-nelson-m6.
The Artist, dates and preview evening are placed above the image, therefore it is the first thing that is read.
A lot of the press release is visual due to the large image of one of the manipulated tyres. What’s interesting about the use of image is that its fairly intact in terms of destruction yet highlights the ability of the material to form new shape. As well as this, its completely separate from the environment its been placed in, there is no background, just purely the sculpture. So then, when visiting the show there is so much more to admire about the show, the space, the layout, the extent of manipulation, the scale, the composition etc. The image itself is of a high quality and it becomes noticeable immediately what the material is, the rest however is pretty much left to the viewers thoughts. The text isn’t too informative in relation to the show, there is mention of Mike Nelson and his current reputation in the art world followed by a short description of the show –”Within the old industrial heart of Birmingham, discarded, utilitarian objects have been collected as if they were trophies of an ignored parallel world – a dark, abject monument. M6 acts as an invocation of the highways and their concrete islands, memorialising their past production and the shifting economies of spent resources.” The exhibition is outlined yet the show isn’t given away- there is a sense of mystery. The rest of the information on the press release is mentioning’s to representatives of Mike Nelson, where his work has been shown and thanks to people involved- this takes up almost 2/3 of the document.