Olaf Nicolai – Faites le travail qu’accomplit le soleil

11 June – 22 August 2010
kestnergesellschaft
Goseriede 11
30159 Hanover, Germany

Olaf Nicolai’s new exhibition opens today. Olaf has a huge obsession for Zabriskie Point. Part of the show consists of photographic work inspired by this Antonioni movie. The artist gave us a little preview of the amazing, meditative and obscure photos included in the artist book, published in occasion of the opening, and shot in the California Death Valley at night.


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At the center of Olaf Nicolai’s exhibition is the new installation Faites le travail qu’accomplit le soleil (2010), which concentrates the main themes of the exhibition such as formalism and its connection to social utopia as well as the relation between subjectivity and perception. The large walk-in sculpture at the center of the multipart installation is covered fully in mirrors, its form recalls the deconstruction of a diving platform, setting up associations of falling, precariousness and orientation. The title of both the installation and the show fragmentarily quotes a sentence from Jean-François Lyotard’s text Libidinal Economy: “You have to do the work that the sun or grass does when you bathe your body in them.” The conjunction of nature (sun) and artificiality (work) refers to the paradoxes that exist in relation to desire and society, need and development or work and pleasure, all of which Olaf Nicolai has repeatedly dealt with in his work.

This installation is accompanied by the photographic work Zabriskie Point (2010). It came about at night at the observation point in the Californian Death Valley National Park which has become a mythical place since its appearance in Michelangelo Antonioni’s eponymous film. While the monumental landscape remains invisible, Nicolai’s images mirror the mediated nature of reality, as well as the utopian moment in Antonioni’s film. The exhibition is completed by the installation Samani (Some Proposals to Answer Important Questions) (2008). The moving spotlight gives rise to the impression of a living being that is looking for something, perhaps contact to the viewer. Samani operates here like an echo of the themes of the other works, while also literally turning on the relationship, given in the title of the exhibition, between sun/light/vitality/nature and work/artificiality. What is at stake in all three parts of the exhibition is an actualization of one of Nicolai’s main concerns: to set up complex relations between abstract form and content, between the perception of a surface and the social implications it evokes.

On the occasion of the opening Olaf Nicolai’s artist book Zabriskie Point (published by spector books) will be presented.

(from press release)