Kunstmuseum St. Gallen
© Sebastian Stadler, ProLitteris Zürich
Text: Kunstmuseum St. Gallen
The landscape, one of the most complex themes in the history of art, is a leitmotif in Nicolai’s work. For the Lokremise St. Gallen he has designed a walk-in environment that could be a desert or a lunar landscape—as alluded to by the quotation that gives the exhibition its name, uttered by American astronaut Charles “Pete” Conrad Jr. on November 18, 1969 during his time on the moon. Nicolai creates a barren, utopian landscape in which multiple levels of references overlap and condense. Central to the work are the shifts in the relationship between the body, space, and movement, and especially the imaginations thus evoked.
Nicolai’s installation in the Lokremise consists mainly of sand, a loose sediment that, under changing climatic conditions, forms a landscape in motion. Geological as well as geopolitical references come into play; Michel Foucault’s notion of heterotopia also comes to mind: Foucault coined the term in the late 1960s to describe transitory places on the margins of society in which social order is both represented as well as disputed and undermined. Nicolai’s barren landscape thus comes into view as an ambiguous place that can be understood in the context of current social change and at the same time sets in motion the viewer’s imaginative potential.
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All following images:
© Sebastian Stadler,
Zabriskie Point, 2010