There Is No Place Before Arrival is the title of the multilayered exhibition Kunsthalle Wien dedicates to German artist Olaf Nicolai. Renowned for his inventive work with a diverse array of materials and mediums, Nicolai’s artistic output is at once conceptual, complex and poetic. He develops a variety of interdisciplinary projects that address the primary experiences of space, time and corporeality.
The exhibition comprises a main installation conceived specifically for the main hall of Kunsthalle Wien and expands beyond the walls of the institution through an array of interventions – both object and time-based, physical and performative – at different venues offering an expanded project which takes place between private and public spaces. At Kunsthalle Wien Olaf Nicolai has commissioned several street and theatre painters to paint onto the floor a pool of twenty-two images of different kinds selected from his personal archive of newspaper clippings. The conceptual gesture of translating photographs from public media sources into enlarged chalk floor paintings is a way to incorporate these particular images into a different context, which affects the perception of them and thus their reception.
A key aspect of Nicolai’s methodological approach is the way he engages with the context in which his work is presented. In order to reflect on this context and call it into question the exhibition extends itself outside of the institutional space and develops in the form of interdisciplinary projects, thereby multiplying the references and interactions the works make with one another and to their environment.
In cooperation with museum in progress, the exhibition will find an extension within media, digital space and Instagram under a project titled media loop (#medialoop). By publishing photographs of the painted images included in the installation in international newspapers and magazines, the imagery will be exposed to a contextual feedback loop.
At the Sigmund Freud Museum Trauer und Melancholie (2009/12) a translation of Freud’s text into Arabic in both written and audio form is on show. The original publication together with a video describing the complexity of the process of translation is displayed and provides a glimpse of the preparations for the reading on the radio.
At ZOOM Children’s Museum Olaf Nicolai realizes a workshop for kids based on the piece A Coloring book for children after motifs by Arnulf Rainer (2002) which is on view. Drawings and collages from a portfolio of Rainer [Proportionsordnungen, 1954] were used to provide templates to be painted out or painted over in the children’s drawing book.
The Georg Fritsch Antiquarian Bookshop provides a perfect structure that connects with Olaf Nicolai’s interests in experimental literature and the book as a medium. Nicolai stages an intervention inside the bookshop and the window display, centred around the seminal manifesto Eight Point Proclamation of the Poetic Act written in 1953 by H.C. Artmann.
There is No Place Before Arrival at Kunsthalle Wien will be shown in conjunction with two other exhibitions presented at Kunsthalle Bielefeld (opens on June 15, 2018) and at Kunstmuseum St. Gallen (opens on July 7, 2018), respectively. Together, the three exhibitions will provide an overview of the artist’s multifaceted work and reflect the interdisciplinary concepts he has used over the past twenty years.
Olaf Nicolai (* 1962) lives and works in Berlin. After studying German language and literature at the University of Leipzig, he has been a visual artist since 1990. In addition to participating in solo and group exhibitions, he has shown at documenta X (1997) and documenta 14 (2017), at the 49th and 51st Venice Biennale (2001 and 2005). For his work In The Woods There Is A Bird… commissioned by documenta 14 Olaf Nicolai was awarded the Karl-Sczuka-Prize 2017 for works of radio art.