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REVIEWS
NEW YORK: CREATIVE TIME
MIKE NELSON: PSYCHIC VACCUM
8 September Ė 28 October 2007
www.creativetime.org


We enter Mike Nelsonís architectural intervention at the defunct Essex Street
Market through the fi lthy disaster of a wrecked Chinese takeout joint, and
into a maze of derelict hallways and cubby-like rooms, free to open doors
and explore at will. Other participants laugh and joke unseen all around,
or perambulate in and out of view. Itís not clear if the whole thing has been
constructed or is a catacomb of shabby immigrant housing and sordid
business premises. I wonder how spooky it would be if I was alone without
the others audibly making their discoveries, venturing into a little room that
contains what might be the remains of a tattoo parlour, or another with
several small shrines on the fl oor. At the end of a brick hallway three baseball
bats are mounted on the wall and a dirty straightjacket lies crumpled
on the fl oor (what happened here?). Continuing on, an airless chamber
contains an assortment of Santeria relics; one might have been some kind
of torture chamber, another appears to be an abandoned surveillance post.





Everything seems like vestiges of things left behind. We follow exit signs
into a long road-house bar and then a poorly lit old garage, or perhaps itís
your grandfatherís neglected basement, and fi nally emerge in a 3,000 ft
warehouse where a small crowd stands gawking at triumphal sand dunes
that reach to the skylights.

The project explores universal themes of ethnicity, magic, paranoia
and adventure with an eerie humour. In one of the claustrophobic corridors a
bearskin is propped up against the wall with a banjo. Nelsonís labyrinthine
haunted house strikes a different private chord in each visitorís forgotten
history. He masterfully leads us on an entertaining psychological journey that
culminates in a profound sensation of freedom and release.

CHRISTOPHER HART CHAMBERS

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