July 9, 2018 - Kunsthalle Wien - Olaf Nicolai: There Is No Place Before Arrival
July 9, 2018

Kunsthalle Wien

Olaf Nicolai, There Is No Place Before Arrival, 2018.

Olaf Nicolai
There Is No Place Before Arrival
July 13–October 7, 2018

Opening and talk: July 12, 6pm, Olaf Nicolai in conversation with curator Luca Lo Pinto

Kunsthalle Wien
Museumsquartier, Museumsplatz 1
1070 Vienna

Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / YouTube / #OlafNicolai / #medialoop

Featuring contributions by: Battle-ax, Marcel Beyer, Ann Cotten, Jeremiah Day, Bart de Kroon, Jan Erbelding, Alix Eynaudi, Andreas Fischer, Lena Grossmann, Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart, Public Possession, Truike van der Poel, Felix Leon Westner

There Is No Place Before Arrival is the title of German artist Olaf Nicolai’s multilayered exhibition. A poetic paraphrase of the dialectic of desire, it implies that when thoughts, words, pictures, and gestures are conveyed they do not arrive in some pre-existing place as such, but create it upon arrival: “Hoped-for duration and permanent delay in motion,” Nicolai remarks.

An installation specially conceived for the main hall of the Kunsthalle Wien is at the center of the exhibition; however, There Is No Place Before Arrival extends beyond the walls of the institution through the realization of a constellation of interventions. The assortment of pieces presented—object and time-based, physical and performative—also poignantly relate to their chosen site of presentation. There Is No Place Before Arrival ultimately offers an expanded project taking place at venues across Vienna and between the realms of private and public space. 

Renowned for his inventive work with a diverse array of materials and mediums, Nicolai’s conceptual œuvre is highly complex and poetic. Imbued with philosophical and political ruminations, his practice questions our habitual ways of seeing things, and reflects on the connections between meaning and experience that continually takes shape. 

Nicolai perceives the relation between an art object and the viewer as a dynamic process. There Is No Place Before Arrival correspondingly engages this dynamism and stages a set of evolving situations for visitors to explore and encounter works in a scattered, almost nomadic manner. Whether through the appropriation and recontextualisation of past works, or through the realization of new pieces, There Is No Place Before Arrival promises to portray Nicolai’s innovative artistic approach, and the “method” he employs that allows for people to experience his work from different perspectives and relate to it in different ways.

At Kunsthalle Wien, Nicolai has commissioned several street and theatre painters to paint a “carpet” of different images selected from his personal archive of newspaper clippings. Visitors will be able to step onto, and walk around the floor-based work, which will not only transform over time, but become activated over the course of the exhibition by writers, dancers, choreographers, musicians, artists, and performers, who have been invited to respond to the gradually changing painted plateau.

In cooperation with museum in progress, and under the title media loop, photographs of the painted images will be published in international newspapers, magazines, and online. The piece is thus amplified into media and digital space, realizing a contextual feedback loop by bringing the imagery back into circulation.

Nicolai’s Trauer und Melancholie (2009/12) will be on show at the Sigmund Freud Museum in Vienna, representing another type of “loop,” or return to origins. Relating to Sigmund Freud’s Mourning and Melancholia, Nicolai’s work (first conceived for the Third Riwaq Biennale in Ramallah in 2009) involves the translation of Freud’s text into Arabic for the first time.   

From Freud to Austrian painter Arnulf Rainer, the work A coloring book for children after motifs by Arnulf Rainer (2002) will accordingly be on display at the ZOOM Children’s Museum in Vienna. Nicolai used drawings and collages from Proportionsordnungen (1954) by Rainer to create the children’s drawing book.

Nicolai’s interests in the book as a medium also finds expression through the intervention staged inside the bookshop and window display of Antiquariat Georg Fritsch. It draws on the seminal manifesto Eight Point Proclamation of the Poetic Act written in 1953 by H.C. Artmann, one of the founders of Wiener Gruppe.

Poetic considerations are a recurring feature of Nicolai’s work and form a dense web of references. The concrete poetry of Ian Hamilton Findlay is inscribed on The Monument for the Victims of Nazi Military Justice at Ballhausplatz, another site for the wide-ranging exhibition. Based on a design by Nicolai, and built in 2014, it is a memorial to people persecuted by the Nazis for refusing to serve in the military. The monument serves as a venue for the vocal performance of a cappella pieces.  

In an ode to the performance of Mother Courage and her Children in 1963 at the Volkstheater, and in reference to the end of the Vienna “Brecht Boycott” (1953–1963), Nicolai presents the Mercedes-Benz Ponton bought by Austrian actress and wife of Bertolt Brecht: Helene Weigel. Rediscovered and made roadworthy, the vehicle—purchased by Weigel as a company car while Director of the Berliner Ensemble—will travel to Vienna where it can be found parked at various locations around Burgtheater and Volkstheater.

There Is No Place Before Arrival at Kunsthalle Wien is shown in conjunction with two other exhibitions presented at Kunsthalle Bielefeld (June 16–September 9, 2018) and at Kunstmuseum St. Gallen (July 7–November 11, 2018), respectively. Together, the three exhibitions provide an overview of the artist’s multifaceted work and reflect the interdisciplinary concepts he has used over the past twenty years. In 2019, the three institutions will work together to produce a comprehensive exhibition catalog. 

Curator: Luca Lo Pinto

In cooperation with Sigmund Freud Museum, ZOOM Children's Museum, Antiquariat Georg Fritsch and museum in progress.

Stay connected:
For the calendar of performances, please check our website.
For further information please contact: Susanne Fernandes Silva
T +43 (0) 1 5 21 89 1221 / presse [​at​] kunsthallewien.at

Kunsthalle Wien
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There Is No Place Before Arrival
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