Artist Research

Inspiration: Mike Nelson, “The Coral Reef”

The Coral Reef has also been a massive inspiration to me during the process of creating my End Of Year piece. As previously mentioned in the blog in earlier posts, I love the ideology of an immersive art space and everything that can transport you into a new place or looking at things through someone else’s eyes. Growing up, I loved fun houses, and maybe this is where my love for immersive spaces has stemmed from.
My end-of-year piece subconsciously takes inspiration from Nelson’s work with miniature rooms and putting yourself into someone else’s shoes when looking at things. I also took inspiration from songwriters such as Taylor Swift when she wrote Folklore and Evermore and the wrote stories from other peoples perspectives, and there is something about this idea that fascinates me. When looking back at my work this there is a thread which links my work and academic work, which is the persona of the artist, and to see this all come together is fascinating and amazing to witness it unfold in front of me.

The Coral Reef 2000 is a huge architectural installation consisting of fifteen rooms with connecting corridors. The Coral Reef displays signs of occupation and use within the rooms of the exhibition – the rooms contain furniture and various objects, while some lights and screens have been left switched on – the questionable inhabitants of the depilated spaces are nowhere to be seen. Only other visitors are encountered along the way, and it is unclear from the range of items in each room – which visitors are not allowed to touch – who the occupants might be or what they might do. Several of the rooms are loosely themed: there is a security surveillance office, a mechanic’s garage, a room littered with drug paraphernalia, a wood-panelled lobby decorated with Americana and other spaces containing various items including advertisements for a religious gathering, Soviet English-language propaganda, a toy gun, a clown mask and an empty sleeping bag. The final room of the installation is an exact replica of the waiting room that appeared at the beginning.

Most of the installation is made up of found objects collected by the artist. Nelson has explained that the work came about. “From repeatedly walking past a mini-cab office around the corner from where I was living in Balham [in London]. The aesthetic was interesting because of the makeshift way such spaces were built and then inhabited. There’d be only a few objects or posters, but through them you could both recognise that these people were quite transient in terms of what they were doing there and also get an idea of what their identity was.”

The title of the work, The Coral Reef, refers to the large natural structures under the sea. Nelson has connected this to the underlying structures of beliefs – whether religious, political, social, or economic – that individuals hold in a mostly subconscious way. – The Tate