In the (Hayward Gallery) remake of the artist’s ‘To the Memory of HP Lovecraft (1999)’ previously installed at the Collective Gallery in Edinburgh, it’s the subtitle of a story by the Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges that was inspired by the US horror writer.
“It’s kind of a parody of a parody of a parody.” said Nelson, standing in the room which is meant to look as it does, of a creature causing general destruction.
Nelson also barred the windows and installed a large trapdoor over the stairs — as if to keep us out or the ‘thing’ in.
Nelson himself just went mad in there, in an exhausting orgy of very calculated, premeditated and staged destruction, taking an axe to walls the English artist put up himself.
“I’m sort of enjoying it. But you have to use an axe so it’s quite exhausting, each mark is done by hand.” he added, with holes in the wall around him, splinters all over the floor, and feces of the beast.
There is method in this messy madness, or at least 'sculptural intervention' by artist Mike Nelson. Dedicated to creepy maverick HP Lovecraft, Nelson's going-over of the space does have a supernatural quality to it, not least because it looks freshly wrecked. Lacerations in the wall only go so high, and have been made with such force that this looks like beastly work, perhaps that of a deranged, trapped bear. If it's man-made, it's madman-made.
And yet it makes perfect sense, with the gallery about to close for major redevelopment. Once you know that this is a precursor to what the builders will be doing, the magic diminishes somewhat - but it's the first encounter that matters. It has the revolutionary vibe of blowing up the institution, destroying the Establishment, ruining the white cube of the gallery.