“The Lost Age” of British Society According to Mike Nelson
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The heart of the Tate Britain becomes the treasure chest of an past era, where the knitting machines from an old textile factory and the wood-work pulled from a former military barracks mix with the elegant neo-classical environs of the Duveen Galleries. In the receiving the coveted Tate Britain Commission 2019, Mike Nelson conceived, for the grand spaces of the Duveen Galleries, the first galleries specifically built for sculpture in England, the exhibition entitled The Asset Strippers. The neoclassical spaces are transformed into a warehouse of monuments emblematic of a lost age which offers up the most significant traits of old British society. Touched by the residue of industry, setting up pieces of equipment destined to obsolescence and taken from companies which no longer exist, the work offers a reflection on the current state of industry in the U.K. and is based in the roots of personal poetics of the English artist, always concerned with works that straddle the confines of literature, film and socio-political critique. The “loot” of the artist comes from the liquidation auctions of companies and salvage operations from which Nelson has accumulated a collection of objects that symbolise the decline of British industry, but also of its infrastructure and society. The exhibition presents the remnants of a past epoch, mounted along with an installation that offers a melancholic journey through Great Britain’s recent social and political history.