Adam Nankervis

Adam Nankervis is an artist and curator who has infused social, conceptual and experimental practice in his lived-in nomadic museum, museum MAN, and his ongoing project ‘another vacant space.’. His immersion into the experimentation of social sculptural forms and aesthetic collisions are a trademark of his art.

His ongoing project ‘another vacant space.’, re-manifested in Berlin, Wedding in 2011, since first being found in an abandoned shoe shop on Mercer Street NYC in 1992. The project focuses on the re-emergence of the hidden in subject, content and theory, the ephemeral, exploring the art of creative destruction and reconstruction, inviting both contemporary artists and the historical.

His curatorial practice is infused within his own projects, and singularly exhibited: Johannesburg Biennale 1997, curated by Okwui Enwezor and Gerardo Meesquera; LIFE/LIVE Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville Paris, curated by Hans Ulrich Obrist 1996 Los Angeles Biennale 2001, curated by Koan Baysa; Museum MAN/ Blurprint of The Senses Liverpool Biennale, 2004/ 2006; aFoundation and Arts Council England 2006; Centro Cultural Palacio de la Moneda, Santiago, Chile, curator, Isa Garcia; A Spires Embers, Mystetskyi Arsenal Kiev 2009; ’Isolation’, Izolyatsia Donetsk, Luba Mikhailova, Ukraine 2010; A Wake, Dumbo Arts Center, NYC November 2012; The Peggy Guggenheim Collection 2015; Fundació Joan Miró 2017, Venice Biennale 57, 2017; Lagos Biennale 2017.

Nankervis, in collaboration with David Medalla, formed The Mondrian Fan Club, & is the International Coordinator of the London Biennale 2000–2018 which was founded as a free-form artist initiative.

Adam Nankervis photo by Maxim Belousev; Mystetskyi Arsenal Kiev 2009

Art historian Guy Brett on Museum MAN
unpublished article, 2005 is an appropriate word. Most people today trace the origins of the modern museum to the Cabinets of Curiosities assembled in their homes by cultivated grandees of the 17th century (they are the ones we hear about, no doubt those less exalted had their collections too). These cabinets enjoyed a fertile, incongruous mix-up of categories, later distinguished as specialized disciplines: paleontology, natural history, archeology, ethnography, optics, cosmology, art. They were also ´lived-in´ museums, and the phenomenon has reappeared in recent times, both as the dens of obsessional collectors, and as the studios of artists. Kurt Schwitters' Merzbau is an outstanding example.

He transformed his house in Hanover into an abstract grotto to contain all the ephemera he collected on his daily rambles. Though he might have wanted to stay for ever in his grotto, he was forced into itinerancy by political events and began a new Merzbau in each principal place of his exile (the poignant remains of the Merzbau he began in a farmer's barn in the English Lake District are preserved in the Hatton Gallery of the University of Newcastle).

Museum MAN, however, is conceived as itinerant. Like Schwitters´Merzbau, Nankervis' museum includes the gifts of other artists´work, or some personal item. Schwitters once purloined a pair of Lazlo Moholy-Nagy´s socks after a visit by the Hungarian and incorporated them into his construction. No doubt this personal momento was steered towards abstraction. Abstraction, understood as the play of forms in a state of freedom, released from the old hierarchies and symbolisms, was the great quest of many 20th century artists. Indeed Schwitters wrote of his multivarious salvages:

By being balanced against each other, these materials lose their characteristics, their personality poison. They are dematerialised and are only stuff for thepainting which is a self-related entity. Nankervis´museum belongs to an age of vastly expanded production and consumption of imagery: a new media-scape, an acceleration of the process of mediation of the real. Far from losing their ´personalities´ his materials take on new personalities as a result of their proximity and interrelationship with one another (this must also be true of Schwitters: his materials do not really lose their personalities; nevertheless the urge towards abstraction does set his collages in their historical moment). Artists have invented museums around specific themes (such as Claes Oldenburg´s Raygun collection as the discovery of a mass-cultural icon in the meanest scraps and trash; or Marcel Broodthaers Eagle Museum ( as a critique of power). As well, ordinary people have created live-in, single theme museums. Obsessional collections of Elvis memorabilia or images of dogs are monothematic but plural in terms of object-forms: an Elvis clock, an Elvis hot water bottle, etc.

The mythic presence is charmed into every commodity of domestic life. An entrepreneur can profit from the collectors addiction ? rare items changing hands for a lot of money ? but nobody can exploit the person who collects material according to a philosophy, a poetics, an aesthetic, that only they know....

Alex Hetherington UK witer/ artist
Liverpool Biennial 'Independents' catalogue, 2006

Australian-born, Liverpool-based artist Adam Nankervis works with a collision of tactics, an array of tensions and assemblage, a merger of disputations, negotiations and dialogues and a broad wealth of visual art vocabulary that connects his practice within the territories of artists like Maurizio Cattelan, Kurt Schwitters, Marcel Broodthaers, Kyoichi Tsuzuki, Gregor Schneider, curators like Massimiliano Gioni and Ali Subotnick and the strategy of the artist-led project/ curator/ gallery/ space/ publisher. …. From it’s origins as Another Vacant Space in New York in the early 1990s, where commodity, economic failure and recession and opportunity merged, transforming as a form and function in Berlin (with a stopover in Copenhagen) through transformation to its destination now as residency in Liverpool, for Independents Nankervis, the Museum Man, presents his Blur Prints. Another Vacant Space which represents not a culmination of activity but a slice of it away from his home/space/museum to reinvest and restage its vibrancy in an open arena where it can be shared and experienced….

Vacant Spaces
Remo Notarianni
Pockets Art Guide, January 2012

One of Nankervis' projects, another vacant space, uses the same curatorial language. Conceptually, it implies the idea of emptiness – the other, another, and the silent time – compressed touchstones of the information world we live in. The selected artwork is preoccupied with the lost, unseen or newly discovered. Another vacant space resurrects an old project. In the next exhibition, planned for 2012, artists Ivor Stodolsky and Marita Muukkonen present the Leningrad Conceptual Archives (from the time of the artistic underground cement in the arts during Russia's Perestroika), which lay undiscovered for many years until Stodolsky discovered the minutes and documentation in an artist's cupboard. Another vacant space was first discovered and opened in New York City in 1992. It could be viewed as Museum Man in a commercial space. Nankervis took over a small shop that had gone bankrupt during a recession, and in the labyrinth of vacancies, galleries, and establishments, the streets at the time became glass passages of empty and swiftly abandoned spaces that were embraced by artistic nature, which abhors a vacuum.