Ben Luke talks to Mike Nelson about his influences—from the worlds of literature, film, music and, of course, art—and the cultural experiences that have shaped his life and work. Nelson, born in 1967 in Loughborough in the UK, is one of the most significant British sculptors and installation artists of this century. He has spent the past three decades assembling materials gathered in junkyards, flea markets, online auctions, even street-corner fly tips into often labyrinthine sculptural environments. He creates distinctive spaces that suggest fictional (and often science-fictional) narratives, while alluding to diverse histories, obscure countercultural or political movements and current affairs as well as his own biography. He discusses the early influence of Graham Sutherland and Francis Bacon, his elation at discovering the work of Paul Thek, how fiction—and science-fiction writers like Stanislaw Lem, J.G. Ballard and the Strugatsky brothers—liberated his approach to art making, and the enduring influence of film-makers including Jean-Luc Godard and Sergei Parajanov.

Mike Nelson: Extinction Beckons, Hayward Gallery, London, until 7 May.

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