Nathaniel Mellors: Prequel Dump

The BOX / Los Angeles

Dark humor and dark matter are produced in extravagant style in Nathaniel Mellors’s “Prequel Dump.” This exhibition consists of films from the past few years—all going simultaneously and shouting over each other—installed among chilling paintings made in collaboration with Chris Bloor and sculptures of bodies, many of them in fragments.

His ongoing film series Ourhouse centers on a character named “The Object,” part of the eccentric, wealthy Maddox-Wilson family. The Object fills the Madox-Wilson hearth with gloom, while suffering from indigestion from the endless book pages that it literally swallows up and then vomits, coming back up as papier mâché. The family transports itself with a TTT—a time-traveling toilet— and is bound together by a gruesome intimacy—or codependency—that seems both a source and product of their absurd physical and mental states and delirious conversations.

Off screen, murky, metallic busts modeled loosely after the artist sit atop eerily glowing acrylic boxes, while a folding table in a florescent-lit hallway holds Cannibal Components (Ruined Table Ruin) (2016), a selection of gruesome hacked-away body parts. The figures’ uncanny vacant stares come across like a coping mechanism for the trauma they seem to have endured getting here.

Neanderthal Container, 2014, presents the latest episode from a protagonist first introduced in The Sophisticated Neanderthal Interview, 2012–13, also on view, about an obsolete proto-human living fully in the present. Between performing daredevil stunts, he addresses his audience over a glitchy synthesizer soundtrack, noting his “sense of nostalgia for my departed beast self by looking to make a version of myself that is kinder to my beast self.” This Neanderthal container—an unsettling metonym for human being—accumulates unexplained injuries between psychedelic scenes, which he addresses with blood-soaked bandages and (again) unexplained additional appendages. Enthusiastic and primed, the Neaderthal cuts to aerial shots of himself skydiving in California’s San Joaquin Valley, repeatedly hitting the ground, no ripcord in sight.

Flash Art May 2016

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