The Nouveau Musée National de Monaco presents an off project by Mike Nelson – Cloak – a site-specific intervention in the UBS building located on avenue de Grande-Bretagne in Monaco.
Mike Nelson is known for his immersive installations, which often play on socio-political preconceptions and subvert the viewer’s sense of place. Informed by fiction, his practice develops parallel realities where various determinants of life and everyday existence conflate to create new understandings and question existing perspectives. For NNMN’s project at the UBS Monaco building, which is currently closed for renovation, the artist has proposed to render all that is visible within the abandoned bank ultramarine blue.
Situated as it is at the junction of Northern Italy and Southern France and acting as a financial centre, the Monaco bank is an apt place to reference the economic pertinence of colour in an historical sense. As explained by David Bomford, in his well-known essay “The History of Colour in Art” :
Cennino describes the preparation of pigments from a variety of sources, both natural and artificial. Such colours could be readily available and inexpensive, or rare and cost a fortune: in the latter category the best-known is ultramarine blue (literally, from over the sea, since it was then found only in Afghanistan), extracted from the semi-precious stone lapis lazuli and invariably (correctly) described as more expensive than gold. In late mediaeval times, when paintings were valued by the worth of their materials as much as the skill of their execution, the purest ultramarine was reserved for painting the Virgin’s mantle and often costed separately in painter’s contracts. In such a painting as Lorenzo Monaco’s Coronation of the Virgin, many of the available pigments are seen at full strength or mixed with white – coloured earths alongside ultramarine blues and the very beautiful lead-tin yellow
As the economic value embeds colour within the ancient trading networks, ultramarine blue references a rare commodity,and exists in the world of luxury goods. These two things – economic value and luxury goods are both closely associated with Monaco. Along with its associated ideas of value and currency, the Eastern source of this colour’s historical extraction further reverberates uncomfortably with current events in the world today. The sense of immersion over the seven floors of the building into the world of blue will be quite mesmeric – almost hallucinogenic. The affect will be that of intoxication; a dreamlike situation that induces mental states that mimic the unreality that one has entered. Ultimately the visitors will be led to the sun-bleached roof terrace. There they will be allowed to rest and survey the sea beyond, before being immersed back into the cloak of deep blue, an underworld akin to that of the ocean, or perhaps trapped inside the parameters of a blue screen. The sensation is contradictory inducing feelings of both suffocation and enlightenment, offering a glimpse of the potentiality of invisibility and the infinite.
Over the past twenty years, Mike Nelson’s work has centered on the transformation of narrative structure to spatial structure, and on the objects placed within them, immersing the viewer and agitating their perception of these environments. The narratives employed by the artist are not linear or teleological, but multi-layered, and often fractured to the extent that they could be described as a semblance of ‘atmospheres’, put together to give a sense of meaning. The more discrete sculptural works are informed by this practice, often relying on their ambiguity to fade in and out of focus, as a sculpture or thing of meaning, and back to the very material itself. By working in this way the more overtly political aspects of the early works have become less didactic, allowing for an ambiguity of meaning, both in the way that they are experienced and understood. This has led to the possibility of the viewer being coerced into an understanding of the varied structures of their existence, both conscious and sub-conscious. Nelson represented Britain at the Venice Biennale in 2011 and has twice been nominated for the Turner Prize: first in 2001 and again in 2007. Born in Loughborough (UK) in 1967, Mike Nelson lives and works in London.
Curators of the project: Suad Garayeva-Maleki and Cristiano Raimondi
This project was done in collaboration with Galleria Franco Noero, Torino.
Mike Nelson is represented by: Galleria Franco Noero, Torino; 303 Gallery, New York; Neugerriemschneider, Berlin; Matt’s Gallery, London.
About UBS and Contemporary Art
UBS’s long and substantial record of patronage in contemporary art actively enables clients and audiences to participate in the international conversation about art and the global art market through the firm’s contemporary art platform. In addition to the Guggenheim UBS MAP Global Art Initiative, UBS’s extensive roster of contemporary art initiatives and programs currently includes: the UBS Art Collection, one of the world’s largest and most important corporate collections of contemporary art and the firm’s long-term support for the premier international Art Basel shows in Basel, Miami Beach, and Hong Kong, for which UBS serves as global Lead Partner. These activities are complemented by a number of regional partnerships with fine art institutions including the Fondation Beyeler in Switzerland, Galleria d’Arte Moderna in Milan, the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco, the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark, and the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. UBS also provides its clients with insight into the contemporary art world through the free art news app Planet Art; collaborations with the Swiss Institute; and the online resource Artsy; as well as through services offered by the UBS Art Competence Center, and the UBS Arts Forum. For more information about UBS’s commitment to contemporary art, visit ubs.com/art.
Until Friday September 16 : visits possible on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 2 to 6 pm or by appointment (upon reservation only for groups up to 10/15 people)
Sunday September 25 : Exceptional opening from 10am until 7 pm on the occasion of the European Heritage Days of Monaco – by appointment only
Extra days : From Monday September 19 until Friday September 30, visits will be possible every weekday (Monday to Friday) until the end of the month, by appointment only