press release

In summer 2018 the Kunsthalle Bielefeld presents the exhibition Chant d’Amour by the Berlin-based artist Olaf Nicolai. The show will examine the special type of museum embodied by the Kunsthalle and its Philip Johnson architecture. Olaf Nicolai: Chant d‘Amourwill be shown at the Kunsthalle Bielefeld parallel to two other exhibitions by Olaf Nicolai, one at the Kunstmuseum St. Gallen (July 7–November 11, 2018) and the other at the Kunsthalle Wien (There is No Place before Arrival, July 13–October 7, 2018). Together, the three exhibitions develop a comprehensive overview of Nicolai’s multifaceted work, unfolding his interdisciplinary concepts from the past 20 years in new contexts. Nicolai has devised a unique theme for each of the institutions, as well as new works. At the center of There Is No Place Before Arrival at the Kunsthalle Wien are questions about the "method" that not only determines Nicolai’s way of working as an artist, but also takes on the character of a work itself. For the LOK in St. Gallen the artist has conceived an accessible environment that could be equal parts desert or moon landscape. Of importance here are the shifts in the relationships among bodies, space, and movement, as well as the fantasies they evoke. The three institutions have banded together to produce a comprehensive exhibition catalogue.

Olaf Nicolai was born in 1962 in Halle an der Saale. After studying German at the University of Leipzig, he began working as an artist in 1990. He is a professor at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste München (Academy of Fine Arts Munich), where he teaches sculpture and the fundamentals of three-dimensional design. His works are in the tradition of Conceptual Art, yet at the same time they sound the depths of the conditions for sensory experience under the auspices of aesthetics, economics, or technology. In 2015 Olaf Nicolai’s much-noticed seven-month-long performative installation Giro was on the roof of the German Pavilion at the Venice Biennial. He participated in last year’s documenta 14 with a radio piece titled In the Woods There is a Bird, which won the Karl Sczuka Prize for Audio Drama in 2017. In 2013 Nicolai designed a textile curtain for the lecture hall at the Kunsthalle Bielefeld. In Chant d‘Amour Nicolai deals with Philip Johnson’s architecture for the Kunsthalle. The eponymous work Chant d’Amour creates a literal connection between exterior and interior. A small hole in one of the Kunsthalle’s large windowpanes contains a straw that makes it possible for air to circulate between the interior and exterior space. A beaded necklace measuring 136.99 meters, titled Der 673. Morgen (The 673. Morning) presents the contours of the Kunsthalle’s exhibition spaces on the second floor in a way that is as discreet as it is urgently poetic. In April 2018 Nicolai went to New Canaan, Connecticut, where he used newspaper to clean the panes of Philip Johnson’s legendary Glass House. This newspaper is now part of the show at the Kunsthalle Bielefeld. It transports the traces of the Glass House that were wiped away to the only museum building that Johnson built in Europe.

The exhibition Olaf Nicolai: Chant d’Amour is sponsored by the Stiftung der Sparkasse Bielefeld, the Kunststiftung NRW, and supported by The Glass House, a National Trust Historic Site.

Curator: Dr. Friedrich Meschede Curatorial Assistant: Nils Emmerichs