MONITOR presents Nathaniel Mellors: The Seven Ages of Britain Teaser

Monitor, Rome

May 13, 2010

Nathaniel Mellors
The Seven Ages of Britain Teaser

Until 29 May 2010

Via Sforza Cesarini 43a-44
00186 Rome, Italy
T: +390639378024
monitor [​at​]

Monitor is proud to present the first solo show in Italy of British artist Nathaniel Mellors. The focus of the show will be Mellors’s new video, The 7 Ages of Britain Teaser, commissioned by the BBC for recent T.V. series The Seven Ages of Britain, presented by David Dimbleby.

The 7 Ages of Britain Teaser continues the visionary quality of Mellors’ previous works; combining aspects of film and theatre with an absurdist, Monty Python-esque humour to explore issues of power and control within cultural structures. Having previously made works under the influence of television the BBC commission has enabled Mellors to make a work about T.V. for television.

Mellors’ script for The 7 Ages of Britain Teaser is about the control of language and the invention of the alphabet. It also reflects on the role of television in the creation of historical narratives. A statuesque woman in futuristic gold robes squabbles with a kind of Medieval dwarf named Kadmus (from King Cadmus, credited by the Ancient Greeks with the introduction of the phonetic alphabet) over a highly naturalistic silicon prosthesis of the face of David Dimbleby which they believe will grant them control of “The Modern Age”. In the best tradition of English comedy, both contenders lose their balance and the face plummets into the void, through the sky and clouds. Dimbleby’s voice-over takes on an increasingly worried, pitiful tone as the face– whose eyes are now missing – continues to fall in a crescendo of increasingly existential exclamations. The face falls into London and lands by the Thames. The presenter himself then retrieves his own face from the water and nonchalantly continues his narration of developments in the history of art across the 20th Century.

The show also features a new animatronic sculpture, an animation of the prosthetic face around which the entire video revolves. This work is a model of broadcasting in a different form; the face’s eyes move and the sound of the interior servo motors responsible for this movement is amplified through a microphone and a series of effects pedals into a droning, psychedelic soundtrack which reverberates through the gallery. The face has become a form of self-generating instrument; it can play itself.

The exhibition has been made possible thanks to the support of the Mondriaan Foundation, Amsterdam, and of the Dutch Embassy in Rome.

Born in 1974 in Doncaster, England, Nathaniel Mellors has recently completed his residence at the Rijksakademie of Amsterdam. He lives & works in Amsterdam & London.
Solo Shows: 2009 Giantbum, Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam; Giantbum, Lombard-Freid Projects, New York; The Time Surgeon, South London Gallery, London.
Group Shows: 2010 British Art Show, Hayward Gallery &UK Touring; 2009: Recent Acquisitions, De Hallen, Haarlem, Holland; Giantbum, Altermodern, Tate Britain, London; Art&Research 2008, Centro Cultural Montehermoso, Vitoria-Gasteiz; The Time Surgeon, New Forest Pavilion, 53rd Venice Biennale; Contour 2009, 4th Biennial of Moving Image, Mechelen, Belgium, The Time Surgeon, South London Gallery (2009), Manifesto Marathon, Serpentine Gallery, London (2008), Art Now, Tate Britain, London (2008), Deep Screen, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2008), The Time Surgeon, Biennale de Lyon (2007) and Hateball, Alison Jacques Gallery, London (2006).

Image above:
Nathaniel Mellors
The 7 Ages Teaser Face, 2010
Animatronic head
Installation view at Monitor, Rome
Courtesy the artist and Monitor, Rome
Photo: Massimo Valicchia