Olaf Nicolai developed the work Le pigment de la lumière for the reconstructed Master’s Houses in Dessau. It involved coating the walls with marble dust with varying degrees of granulation to create a geometrical pattern, thus producing a subtle relief that responds to the changing light conditions. In this work, Nicolai continues to pursue his artistic interest in grappling with the formal concept of camouflage, since, to begin with, the wall surfaces are almost invisible to the viewer. Heidi Specker gives Le pigment de la lumière a heightened sense of presence in her photography. Her pictures direct the gaze of the viewer to the contouring and the interplay of surface and space—a reflective phenomenon that is a calculated part of Nicolai’s wall surfaces. In Nicolai and Specker’s joint publication, an aesthetic intervention in the reconstructed space is further extrapolated using the medium of photography presented in book form.
How can songs reflect political events? How does a song become a political song? The artist Olaf Nicolai invited eleven international composers to write songs that reference political events which were of current relevance to them. Without prior announcement, a total of 58 songs were performed as a-cappella pieces on twelve Sundays in 2011 on the central staircase of the Pinakothek der Moderne in Munich. Visitors to the museum found themselves as actors in a staged performance for brief instances of time. The publication Escalier du Chant presents excerpts from the songs and commentaries by the composers in the form of 58 music sheets; the accompanying booklet contains various photographs of the performances. Includes songs by Tony Conrad, Georg Friedrich Haas, Georg Katzer, Liza Lim, Samir Odeh-Tamimi, Enno Poppe with Marcel Beyer, Rolf Riehm, James Saunders, Elliott Sharp, Mika Vainio, Jennifer Walshe.
Published by Spector Books. By Olaf Nicolai. Text by Marian Kaiser, Eva Wilson.
What do books that were never written tell us about their authors, about the book-lives they never lived? The Bauhaus book series was started in 1925 as an ambitious project and grand marketing campaign. The big issues and questions of modernism were to be dealt with by internationally renowed authors — including one female author — in more than fifty publications. In the end, only fourteen of them were published. Silent Partners is made up of three sequences dedicated to the never-published books. In each of the scenes, one unwritten Bauhaus book has a conversation with an object or an idea from within the book.
Published by Moderne Kunst Nürnberg. Edited by Markus Landert. Text by Dorothee Messmer.
This publication focuses on recent works by German artist Olaf Nicolai (born 1962), including his 2009 work "Mirador." Inspired by the eponymous observation point in Daniel Defoe's novel Robinson Crusoe, Nicolai traveled to the South Pacific to take a single photograph, of which only one copy was made, thus undoing assumptions of the photograph as a reproducible object.
Published by Hatje Cantz Publishers. Artwork by Olaf Nicolai. Edited by Raimar Stange, Barbara Steiner. Contributions by Charles Esche. Text by Magnus Haglund.
Olaf Nicolai questions the processes of perception in order to elicit a different kind of reception. "Questions of form, moods, attitudes and style are not just vain play with surfaces. They are questions of [the] organizational forms of activities," he explains. In his works, Nicolai displays attitudes and styles, combining and collecting them. He integrates classical artistic techniques and the act of collecting; he secures evidence and constructs archives as the activities of his artistic production. His surprising, often overwhelming installations combine current questions of the natural sciences and the liberal arts with conceptional works that refer to biology, architecture, aesthetics, iconography, history, and the general processes of civilization and urban life. Focused on the construction and exploration of new aesthetic contexts, Nicolai's work often reflects the difference between nature and art, or naturalness and artificiality. This first big monograph is published on the occasion of Nicolai's receipt of the Kunstpreis from the city of Wolfsburg.