About the Project

Mike Nelson’s 2007 installation A Psychic Vacuum transformed the disused interior of the Essex Street Market—located in NYC’s Lower East Side—into a parallel universe of deeply believable and disquieting architectural spaces. Entering Nelson’s work was an active, anxiety-inducing experience, during which viewers moved through an elaborate labyrinth of rooms and were forced to surrendered their bearings in order to experience the artist’s three-dimensional narrative.


Inspired by the building’s history, the surrounding neighborhood, literary and cultural references, and the current social climate in the United States, the project came to life via materials gleaned from local salvage yards and debris from the market’s heyday. A Psychic Vacuum not only offered audiences the opportunity to explore a forgotten building, but also continued Creative Time’s history of both encouraging dialogue about neighborhoods on the verge of change and producing site-specific architectural artworks.


Photograph by Charlie Samuels




Multiple Artists

A Psychic Vacuum