Okwui Enwezor’s Venice Biennale Is an Unpleasant Experience—And That’s a Good Thing
Considered one of Germany’s leading artists, Olaf Nicolai takes on a range of conceptual themes, from political and cultural critiques to inquiries into human perception. A recurring subject is the aesthetic appropriation of nature by human culture and design, explored through mixed-media sculptures and images, as in his juxtaposition of plant forms with depictions of hand gestures in Italian Renaissance paintings. “Questions of form, moods, attitudes, and style are not just vain play with surfaces,” Nicolai has said. “They are questions of organizational forms of activities.” In his recent work Escalier du Chant (Staircase of Song) (2011), Nicolai took over the sweeping staircase of Munich’s modern art museum, Pinakothek der Moderne, for one Sunday of each month in 2011. Throughout the day, performers would sing the songs of 12 international contemporary composers—which addressed political issues that took place throughout that year—creating a new aesthetic context for the year’s political events.
German, b. 1962, Halle/Saale, Germany, based in Berlin, Germany