Nathaniel Mellors Q&Art questionsandart

21st century fabulist

Yay, this marks my first blog from the N.Y.C. My first choice museum to visit was the New Museum to hit their Triennial. I also ended up going to Nathaniel Mellors Progressive Rocks. It. Was. Absurd. So weird, however, not too eccentric to disable interpretation.

The L.A. and Amsterdam based artist created a space which felt like an animatronic show in an amusements park. Some moving images mainly depicting a weird looking caveman and spa visitor (white robe and slippers) with a cardboard box as a head alternated with a physical display of said characters. So this kind of approach as an exhibition itself would be crazy enough right? No, not for Nathaniel. As the pamphlet says best: [it] employ[s] absurdist satire to incisively critique morality, national identity, religion, and power structures in contemporary society.

And it absolutely lives up to this statement. Like fables, a literary genre that uses non-human characters with human-like features to convey a particular moral lesson. Perhaps due to its surrealism, it doesn’t feel like it’s aimed at our society which offers the opportunity for the public to adjust while the artist slowly puts a mirror in front of them.

The first moving image The Sophisticated Neanderthal Interview (2014) tells the story of exactly a sophisticated Neanderthal interview conducted by a contemporary man.

The Neanderthal, a species of early human has been considered inferior to the Homo sapiens. However, recently was discovered that they were, in fact, capable of making art. During the interview, the power structure shifts and it becomes visible that the Neanderthal becomes in control.

At the end of the ride, one encounters The Aalto Natives. It’s an installation of multiple screens with a robot and a plush egg and cardboard-box-head-man in the center. The movie that is shown is connected to the egg and cardboard-box-head-man. It becomes clear that the egg is a kind of god who created a society some million years ago, and the c-b-h-m is his son. One can follow their journey as they are trying to go over the society full of xenophobia and polarizing populism. Sounds familiar? (Not the part about the egg but the society part of course).

Curious? It’s on view at the New Museum until the 15th of April. 

Nathaniel Mellors Q&Art
Nathaniel Mellors, The Sophisticated Neanderthal Interview, 2014
Nathaniel Mellors Q&Art
Nathaniel Mellors, Reliquary Reliquary, 2016
Nathaniel Mellors Q&Art
Nathaniel Mellors, The Aalto Natives, 2017
Nathaniel Mellors Q&Art
Nathaniel Mellors, Neanderthal Container: Animatronic Prelaps, 2015

 

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