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Nicholas Mangan

eXoecoaXis  2005

perspex, resin, carpet, wood, acrylic paint

140 × 350 × 240cm installed

Museum of Contemporary Art, purchased with the assistance of Ken and Lisa Fehily, 2006

2006.12A-E

About the Artwork

A Persian carpet, once a finely wrought artefact imbued with cultural significance but now a cheap knockoff, is the unlikely ground from which emerges a concatenation of bones and wood. Pointed plastic crystals sprout towards a totem pole of desiccated wooden bowls that stands on the central medallion of the carpet. Surrounding these strangely organic yet manmade forms is a stick house of bones in a state of imminent collapse.

Nicholas Mangan’s work uses materials and objects from both the natural world and the domestic sphere, combining and transforming them into strange installations. Conjuring elaborate narratives, with suggestions of ritualistic events or mythological environments, Mangan’s works also encourage a consideration of the histories, exchanges and uses of objects, from Persian carpets to Pacific-style wooden bowls. Using salad bowls souvenired from Fiji in the 1970s and eastern prayer rugs manufactured for a secular western market, Mangan exports the objects of cultural appropriation and exploitation to an imagined natural state, where they subside into decay alongside human and animal bones.

Using natural and industrialised materials, Mangan’s work can be a considered as a critique of modern capitalism’s destructive effects on nature and traditional cultures through trade, colonisation and industrialisation. The prayer rug that was once handmade to a traditional design and pointed towards Mecca becomes a devalued article of home furnishing, while the carved bowls of the Pacific become mass-produced items in a commercially driven tourist trade. Both were manufactured objects present in Mangan’s childhood home and here, through a ritualistic metamorphosis, he returns them to a pre-industrial state.

Central to my work is the idea of renewal through disintegration; integrating natural and cultural processes of fragmentation and reconfiguration, and how meaning is formed via these processes.

Nicholas Mangan, 2005

Nicholas Mangan

– About the artist

Born 1979 Geelong, Victoria. Lives and works Melbourne.


Nicholas Mangan’s sculptural practice excavates the material histories of specific objects and their contexts in order to reassemble them to reveal latent and new meanings. He has exhibited in Australia and internationally. Recent exhibitions include Other Currents, Artspace, Sydney (2015); Ancient Lights, Chisenhale Gallery, London (2015); Octopus, Gertrude Contemporary, Melbourne (2014); Courtesy of the Artist, CNEAI, Paris (2013); 13th Instanbul Biennale (2013); Art and Australia Collection, Newcastle Regional Art Gallery, NSW (2012); Talking Pictures, Artspace, Sydney (2011); Before & After Science: 2010 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide (2010); Between a Rock and a Hard Place, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (2009); Lucky Number Seven, SITE International Biennial, SITE Santa Fe, USA (2008); The Shadow Cabinet: The Second Phase of Master Humphrey’s Clock, de Appel Arts Centre, Amsterdam; and Adventures with Form in Space: Balnaves Foundation Sculpture Project 2006, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney (2006). Recent solo exhibitions include Some Kinds of Duration, Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne (2012) and Nauru, Notes from a Cretaceous World, Sutton Gallery, Melbourne and Hopkinson Cundy, Auckland, New Zealand (2010).

Learn more
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