Olaf Nicolai


All over the world technicians seek out the best places for setting up industrial wind parks in untouched landscapes. The artist Olaf Nicolai has selected a seemingly paradox place for a single windmill – the Kunstraum Dornbirn. The wind turbine is mounted so that its rotory blades more or less fill the entire space of what was once an assembly hangar for the construction of hydropower plants. The spatial effect is nothing short of monumental. Temporarily, the original function of the building is revived in an artistic way. Even if the transfer of the windmill to an art space seems a bit odd at first, it does create a network of references and conversions on a number of levels. An industrial element which increasingly defines the image of contemporary landscapes is shifted from outdoors indoors. This way not only the sculptural character of the object is emphasized, also ist immediate function is transcended. The production of energy yields to the consumption of energy. The functionality of the wind turbine evoked by the artistic effect of the rotary movement proves to be an illusion in this context.

This conversion and the focus on the sculptural aspect open up a new perspective on the tension existing between artistic abstraction and the imitation of nature. The shapes of the rotory blades are based on mathematical calculations and are thus abstract sculptures in the ideal sense of the word. Referring to Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957), who represented the most extreme form of reduction and abstraction in modern sculpture, Olaf Nicolai presents the “Constantin“ windmill as a highly abstract design of an organic shape.

The transformation and shift of an industrial windmill to and from the art space reflects the complex relationship between art, technology and nature, once again addressing the very notion of art in an exemplary way.

Petra Schröck, curator

Olaf Nicolai, 'Constantin'. 2006, © the artist


Olaf Nicolai

Texte und Bilder zur Ausstellung
Herausgeber Kunstraum Dornbirn
Dreisprachig (Deutsch/Englisch/Französisch)
28 Seiten
Euro 15.- / SFr 27.-
ISBN 3-940064-81-5
erschienen bei spector books, 2008