March 2, 2011 - Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) - Nathaniel Mellors
March 2, 2011

Nathaniel Mellors

Nathaniel Mellors, “Daddy” (Richard Bremmer) reading his letter from The Council in Nathaniel Mellors’ “¬Ourhouse – Episode 1,” 2010-, film Still.

Nathaniel Mellors

A two-headed talking animatronic sculpture and video installations showing three episodes of Nathaniel Mellors’ absurdist sitcom Ourhouse are included in the artist’s first major solo exhibition in a UK public institution at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) from 9 March to 15 May 2011. A programme of music events, film screenings and talks devised by Mellors complements the exhibition.

The episodes of Ourhouse are set in and around a dilapidated country manor house and feature the eccentric Maddox-Wilson family, whose lives are destabilised by an unusual visitor. The family’s dynamics begin to shift as the visitor, known as The Object, consumes and excretes the contents of their library and takes control of language within the house. The themes that are played out in the ensuing episodes are the product of the ingested and half-digested texts.

Charlotte Bonham-Carter, ICA Curator said: “The ICA aims to support and to give a platform to artists at a particular turning point in their career. Mellors’ exhibition illustrates a distinctive moment of change in his work. Ourhouse demonstrates Mellors’ interest in exploring crossovers between the media of film and sculpture—particularly where forms can obscure the ideas that they purport to represent—from the episodic layering of the story to the transposition of an onscreen character into a physical sculpture in the gallery.”

Hippy Dialectics is an animatronic sculpture of Ourhouse‘s central character, the family’s patriarch Daddy (Richard Bremmer). The sculpture’s two heads are connected by hair and each repeats a line from a moment in the script where Daddy is losing the plot—”Listen mate, I’m having a few issues. Small, administrative problems really, not a big deal…”

Ourhouse is partially influenced by Pasolini’s 1968 classic Theorem, in which a seemingly angelic guest (Terence Stamp) arrives at a bourgeois household and acts upon individual desires to seduce each of its members, from the patriarchal father to the maid. Other influences include Beckett and the theatre of the absurd, and British TV drama and sitcoms of the 1970s and 80s. The ambitious production evolved from Mellors’ recent commission for BBC One, ‘The 7 Ages of Britain Teaser’, which featured David Dimbleby performing alongside a prosthetic replica of his own face.

Mellors’ artwork frequently combines video, sculpture, music and writing, and the complex relationship between language and power is a recurring theme. This typically manifests itself in absurdist, humorous narratives which reveal a penchant for satire and the grotesque.

Mellors will devise a programme of film, music and talks in conjunction with Mark Pilkington (Strange Attractor); Junior Aspirin Records, which Mellors co-founded; and Brighton’s Well Rounded Records. The events programme will enable Mellors to utilise all the ICA’s ground floor spaces and realise the full extent of his practice.

He will curate 3rd Leggg, a presentation of works by a diverse selection of artists whom Mellors cites as inspirational: Robert Abel, Chris Bloor, Larry Cohen, Shah Jahan, Paul Laffoley, Tala Madani and Bob Parks. John C. Welchman will be giving a lecture on Nathaniel Mellors’ work on 27 March. Mellors has created a series of 23 unique colour photograms—Nathaniel Mellors, Venus of Truson (prehistoric, photogrammic originals)—to accompany the exhibition. Each work is a signed and numbered edition of 1 and available exclusively through the ICA.

Ourhouse complements the exhibition of Mellors’ vomiting animatronic The Object (Ourhouse) and Ourhouse Episode 2 in British Art Show 7: In The Days of The Comet, exploring themes seen earlier exhibitions Black Gold, Profondo Viola, The Time Surgeon and Giantbum.
Ourhouse was commissioned by De Hallen Haarlem and the British Art Show 7: In the Days of the Comet, with the Netherlands Film Fund and the Netherlands Fund for Visual Arts, Design and Architecture; Galerie Diana Stigter, Amsterdam; MONITOR, Rome; Matt’s Gallery, London; ICA, London; LUX, London; Mondriaan Foundation, Amsterdam and Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, Turin. Ourhouse was produced by NOMAD (Michael Smythe & Piera Buckland).

Institute of Contemporary Arts, The Mall, London, SW1Y 5AH
Book online:
Box Office: +44 (0)20 7930 3647
Textphone: +44 (0)20 7839 0737

Nathaniel Mellors: Ourhouse is open from 9 March to 15 May 2011

*Image above:
Credit: © the artist, courtesy Galerie Diana Stigter, Amsterdam; Matt’s Gallery, London and MONITOR, Rome.

Nathaniel Mellors
Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA)
Share - Nathaniel Mellors
  • Share
Click to subscribe to e-flux and be the first to receive the latest news on international exhibitions and all e-flux related announcements
Subscribe to e-flux
Be the first to receive the latest news on international exhibitions and all e-flux related announcements.
Subscribe to architecture
Explore the most recent content from e-flux architecture and urbanism
Subscribe to e-flux programs
Keep up-to-date on all upcoming talks, screenings, and exhibitions at e-flux in New York