In his first major American installation, two-time Turner Prize nominee Mike Nelson transformed the cavernous, derelict Essex Street Market into an epic maze of constructed rooms, passageways and trick doors, in which the visitors’ cautious exploration becomes itself an act of performance. Nelson likens the experience to being lost in a novel, “like a fantasy on the high sea in the 17th century; you’re not actually there, but at some point you become lost.” Drawing inspiration from the surrounding neighborhood, “A Psychic Vacuum” evokes the history of Manhattan’s Lower East Side, with allusions to tattoo parlors, Chinese restaurants, clairvoyants’ storefronts and working class watering holes. Free and open to the public, the installation attracted thousands of visitors over the course of eight weekends in September and October 2007 and earned Nelson a “Best of 2007” nod from ArtForum.

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