Mike Nelson
Quiver of Arrows
mixed media
10 1/2 x 36 x 35 feet
MN 22
Rachel Smith Althof

I recently visited 303 Gallery and viewed – experienced – Mike Nelson’s “Quiver of arrows,” his first solo exhibition in the United States.  
Nelson has built an installation using four old trailers.  The trailers have been connected nose to tail in a square formation, so the viewer –
inhabitant – may walk loop through the entire work.  The four, old trailers sit upon a wooden structure, reminiscent of an old boardwalk, some
wood rotten, some wood burned, swaying ever so slightly as if the strength of the ocean moved underneath.

  As I feel when approaching most installations, I was excited to envelope myself in a work of art.  I walked up the rickety steps only to realize my
excitement had quickly transformed into anxiety.  This was turning into a thrilling adventure.  Crouching through the tiny door and entering the
space, I immediately turn left.  Palms sweating, heart racing, I begin walking the loop through the four connecting trailers.  Must keep moving.

  As I crouch and walk through the old trailers, the rank smell rushes over me.  I keep moving.  The floor is changing; it doesn’t look very
secure.  Must keep moving.  There are piles of dust and scraps throughout; I feel particles of art on the tip of my nose and the back of my
throat.  Must keep moving.  

As I am about to turn the second corner of the square formation, palms sweating, heart racing, throat dry, eyes darting - I must get out.  This
artwork is consuming me. I entered the installation, and now the installation is entering me.  With a new sense of violation, the floor gives under
my feet, the slight bounce and sway of rotting wood.  I am halfway through the square formation, as far from the exit as I could possibly be.  I
keep moving forward until I reach the exit, the stairs, and finally solid ground.

  Reflecting back, I wonder about the value of this experience, and the value of this artwork.  I clearly had a strong emotional response to the
work, later leading to further thoughts and a variety of personal interpretations.  I’ve thought about this piece a lot, but I really didn’t like the way
it made me feel.  Does the strength of the response alone give value to the work?  Does it matter that I didn’t like feeling the emotions evoked
from the work?  I want to dislike this installation – I disliked experiencing it, but I can’t ignore the strength of the resipiscence.     
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Resipiscence and the Consummation of the Experience
Rachel Smith Althof