Olaf Nicolai: GIRO, 2015 © VG Bild-Kunst

Olaf Nicolai: GIRO

The rooftop – a political sphere and dialectical space 

Olaf Nicolai's presentation retraces and concretizes the collected documents of his durational piece GIRO, performed on the rooftop of the German pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennial. The starting point of his approach was a body of visual research on the iconography of the rooftop – understood as a dialectical space of freedom as well as threat. This comprehensive compilation of images includes contemporary media footage as well as historic images. His montage weaves together different themes of escape; as liberation, ascension, flight, but also as retreat, defense, and punishment. The motor of this narration is the image of the boomerang and its tracjectories, everything revolves around the idea of circulation or as Slavoj Žižek points it out:

Olaf Nicolai: GIRO, 2015 © VG Bild-Kunst

"The boomerang thus designates the very moment of the emergence of 'culture,' the moment when instinct is transformed into drive: the moment of splitting between goal and aim, the moment when the true aim is no longer to hit the goal but to maintain the very circular movement of repeatedly missing it." (Slavoj Žižek)

The wall mural is framed by large projections of video footage recorded by flying boomerangs during his durational piece on the rooftop. Nicolai’s installation sums up the central motifs of this exhibition: the rooftop as a political sphere and the global circulation of images, people, and things.

Olaf Nicolai; Foto © Hans-Günther Kaufmann

Olaf Nicolai, born 1962, lives and works in Berlin. He has developed a range of interdisciplinary projects that question the elemental experience of space, time, and physicality. Whether it be in a science-fiction novel, a piece of music, or the processes of industrial arts and crafts, Nicolai acts as a go-between, mediating between a given space and conceptual forms to tackle questions of social behaviour in the zone of tension between concrete experience and abstract contextualization. By working with repetition and sequencing, he develops his own representational critique and gives visibility to unfamiliar contexts. He combines the production of artificial landscapes, archival memory, craft practices, and fictional scenarios with quotidian constellations, and, in so doing, highlights the variability of our conception of nature.
Nicolai is Professor for Sculpture and Fundamentals of Three-dimensional Design at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste München. His work was recently seen in: Anticipation 4, Fondation Lafayette, Paris (2014); Le pigment de la lumière, interior design for the new Gropius and Moholy-Nagy Masters’ Hous-es, Bauhaus Dessau (2014); (Innere Stimme), Museum Angewandte Kunst, Frankfurt am Main (2013); Escalier du Chant, Musée du Louvre, Paris (2013). He took part in the Biennale di Venezia in 2001 and 2005 and in documenta X (1997).

Fabrik. Biennale Arte 2015, German Pavilion. – Stuttgart: ifa, 2015. – 220 pp.

Exhibition catalogue

Fabrik. Biennale Arte 2015, German Pavilion. – Stuttgart: ifa, 2015. – 220 pp. Order on ifa Media