How artist Mike Nelson turns traffic cones, old vehicles, and outdated machines into art

The acclaimed sculptor welcomes Art Basel to his South London studio

Mike Nelson has made a name for himself with his immersive installations that invite viewers to explore enigmatic settings: a minicab office, a photo lab, a drive-in cinema. His imaginary spaces are often eerily familiar and show traces of occupation, yet they are always devoid of human presence. In recent years, Nelson has refocused his practice on the found items that are used to construct his dream-like environments. Turned into free-standing sculptures, these discarded objects sourced from flea markets and online shops exude a sensual materiality loaded with the memories of their previous lives. They stand as witnesses of times gone by – and sentinels of those to come.

In this new episode of ‘Meet the Artists’, Nelson welcomed Art Basel to his South London studio to discuss the power of fiction, the emotional charge of found objects, and how they might turn into art.

Mike Nelson is represented by 303 Gallery, New York; Galleria Franco Noero, Turin; Matt’s Gallery, London; and neugerriemschneider, Berlin.

Direction: Camila Chaves Stillger and Jeremy Carne
Sound: Paula Garcia
Production: Coline Milliard and Jeanne-Salomé Rochat for Art Basel