Tim Nelson – A Psychic Vacuum – Essex St, NYC

Down on Essex street, right by my accountant, is the abandoned Building D of the old Essex Street Market. I LOVE crawling around abandoned buildings. And occasionally getting in. And this one has some of my favorite street art ever on the outside. But I’ll show that another time.

Cause Creative Time.org commissioned the well-known (except in the US) British installation artist Mike Nelson to to turn the inside into one of his amazing constructed spaces. which, arty as it was, I got into.

Titled “A Psychic Vacuum,” the installation consists of a series of large and small rooms and corridors. You enter thru an abandoned Chinese restaurant.

Nelson built out every room in the place after that. He layered his own stuff over and under and round old stuff. {A palimpsestian after my own heart, he is!} He painted, put up walls, manipulated surfaces and even floor height.

The room contents, which he picked up all over the place, in junkyards, rubbish tips, etc., are artfully arranged in tableaux alluding to the area’s past – Chinese restaurants, tattoo parlors,


auto repair shops, and more.

Nelson’s ambiguous, allusive layers describe more than the Lower East Side – they describe America – and the title, “A Psychic Vacuum” gives a pretty good idea of his view.

He’s got Cold War tableaux:

accretions of pop culture:

and a bar that managed to evoke the Deer Hunter, a nightmare bar in the back of my brain somewhere, and some kind of abandoned BPOE/VFW hellhole.

and a lot more.

I loved the layers.

and the

real decay

vs. the metaphorical

There’s a far better and more extensive slide show up on This Week in New York’s flickr site.

but if you can get yr ass to Delancey and Essex, NYC, on a Sat/Sun 12-6 before Oct. 28., DO IT! I may still be crawling around in there.