carsten nicolai

carsten nicolai

curriculum vitae

Carsten Nicolai, born 1965 in Karl-Marx-Stadt, is a German artist and musician based in Berlin. He is part of an artist generation who works intensively in the transitional area between music, art and science. In his work he seeks to overcome the separation of the sensory perceptions of man by making scientific phenomenons like sound and light frequencies perceivable for both eyes and ears. Influenced by scientific reference systems, Nicolai often engages mathematic patterns such as grids and codes, as well as error, random and self-organizing structures. His installations have a minimalistic aesthetic that by its elegance and consistency is highly intriguing. After his participation in important international exhibitions like documenta X and the 49th and 50th Venice Biennale, Nicolai's works were shown worldwide in extensive solo and group exhibitions.

His artistic œuvre echoes in his work as a musician. For his musical outputs he uses the pseudonym Alva Noto. With a strong adherence to reductionism he leads his sound experiments into the field of electronic music creating his own code of signs, acoustics and visual symbols. Together with Olaf Bender and Frank Bretschneider he is co-founder of the label 'raster-noton.archiv für ton und nichtton'. Diverse musical projects include remarkable collaborations with Ryuichi Sakamoto, Ryoji Ikeda (cyclo.), Blixa Bargeld (ANBB) or Mika Vainio. Nicolai toured extensively as Alva Noto through Europe, Asia, South America and the US. Among others, he performed at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Centre Pompidou in Paris and Tate Modern in London. Most recently Nicolai scored the music for Alejandro González Iñárritu's newest film, 'The Revenant' which has been nominated for a Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Critics Choice Award.


Lives and works in Berlin and Chemnitz, Germany

1965Born in Karl-Marx-Stadt, GDR
1985-90Study of landscape architecture. Dresden, DE
1992Co-founder of the project Voxxx-Kultur- und Kommunikationszentrum, Chemnitz, DE
1994Foundation of noton.archiv für ton und nichtton
1999Label fusion to raster-noton
2015Professorship in art with focus on digital and time-based media, Dresden Academy of Fine Arts

prizes / scholarships

201417th Japan Media Arts Festival, Grand Prize (Art Division), JP (crt mgn installation)
2012Giga-Hertz-Award, ZKM Karlsruhe, DE (cyclo. id Publication with Ryoji Ikeda)
2007Villa Massimo, Rome, IT
 Zurich Prize, Zurich, CH
2003Villa Aurora, Los Angeles, US
2001Prize Ars Electronica, Golden Nica, Linz, AT (polar installation with Marko Peljhan)
2000f6 Philip Morris, Graphic Prize, Dresden, DE
 Prize Ars Electronica, Golden Nica, Linz, AT (20' to 2000 Project)
1990Jürgen Ponto Prize, Frankfurt/Main, DE

artworks in public space

2018tristela, Daikin Ales Aoya Expansion, Tottori, JP
2017chroma ora, The MixC, Shenzhen, CN
2015chroma actor, Seibu Shibuya, Tokyo, JP
2011lfo spectrum, Olympic Park, London, UK
2010monitor, Siobhan Davies Studios, London, UK
 autor, Temporäre Kunsthalle, Berlin, DE (Temporary)
2009poly stella, Kasumigaseki Building Plaza, Tokyo, JP
 pionier II, Piazza Plebiscito, Naples, IT (Temporary)
2006polylit, Kleiner Schlossplatz, Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, DE
2005frequenz (milch), Tramhaltestelle, Hauptbahnhof Leipzig, DE

solo exhibitions (selection)

2024HYbr:ID, MACRO - Museo di Arte Contemporanea di Roma, IT
2023strahlen / raggi, FMAV - Palazzina dei Giardini, Modena, IT
 transmitter / receiver — the machine and the gardener, Marsèll Paradise, Milano, IT
2022grau, with Albert Oehlen, Galerie EIGEN + ART, Berlin, Germany
 transmitter / receiver — the machine and the gardener, Haus der Kunst, Munich, Germany
2019parallax symmetry, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, Germany
 rota, Lehmbruck Museum, Duisburg, Germany
2018formula, Galerie EIGEN + ART, Berlin, Germany
 tele, Berlinische Galerie, Berlin, Germany
2017organ, St. Anne's chapel in Krobitz, Weira, Germany
 parallax, Ichihara Lakeside Museum, Ichihara, JP
 unicolor, Galerie EIGEN + ART leipzig, DE
 autonomo, ibid Gallery, Los Angeles, US
2016black absorb pol, Seibu Shibuya, Tokyo, JP
 unidisplay, Copenhagen Contemporary, Copenhagen, DK
 reflektor distortion, Galerie EIGEN + ART Berlin, DE
2015unitape, Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz, DE
 unidisplay, Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, DE
 unicolor, The Vinyl Factory, London, UK
 ur-geräusch, Kunstverein Braunschweig, DE
 strange attractors, Borusan Contemporary, Istanbul, TR
2014alpha pulse, ICC International Commerce Center Hong Kong, Art|Basel|Hong Kong
 unidisplay, SonarPLANTA, The Sorigué Foundation, Barcelona, ES
2013empty garden, The Hole Gallery, Prague, CZ
 crt mgn, Galerie EIGEN + ART Berlin, DE
 observatory, ibid projects, London, UK
 unidisplay/uni(psycho)acoustic, Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt/Main, DE
2012unidisplay, Musée d'Art Contemporain, Montréal, Canada / HangarBicocca, Milan, IT
 schatten loop, COS Store, Berlin, DE (in collaboration with COS)
2011pionier, CAC, Vilnius, Lithuania / Galerie EIGEN + ART, Leipzig, DE / The Pace Gallery, New York, US
 filter, House of Art, Budweis, CZ
 unitxt mirrored, Galleria Lorcan O'Neill, Rome, IT
2010polar m [mirrored] with Marko Peljhan, YCAM, Yamaguchi, JP
 scaler, Hendrik Christian Andersen Museum, Rome, IT
 MAGA, Museo Arte Gallarate, IT
 autor, Temporäre Kunsthalle, Berlin, DE
 moiré, The Pace Gallery, New York, US
 anti reflex, La Casa Encendida, Madrid, ES
 rota, Museum der Bildenden Künste, Leipzig, DE
2009aoyama space, Kunstraum Innsbruck, AT
 rota, Schering Stiftung, Berlin, DE
 unitxt, SKETCH, London, UK
2008anti reflex, Kunsthalle Hamburg, DE
 tired light, Galerie EIGEN + ART Berlin, DE
2007static fades, Haus Konstruktiv, Zurich, CH / PaceWildenstein, New York, US
2006inver, Frieze Art Fair, London, UK
 inver, Galerie EIGEN + ART Leipzig, DE
2005audio visual spaces, Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (SMAK), Gent, BE
 anti reflex, Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt/Main, DE
 syn chron, Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, DE / Bern, CH / Yamaguchi, JP
2003funken, Galerie EIGEN + ART Berlin, DE
 modular re.struct, Poalo Curti/Annamaria Gambuzzi & Co, Milan, IT
2002parallel lines cross at infinity, WATARI-UM, Watari Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, JP
2001milch, London, UK
2000ystad kunsthalle, Ystad, SE
 polar, Canon ARTLAB 10 (with Marko Peljan), Tokyo, JP
19991% Space, Copenhagen, DK
1998polyfoto, Galerie für Zeitgenössische Kunst, Leipzig, DE
1996Leonhardi-Museum, Dresden, DE
 The New York Kunsthalle, New York, US
1995Galerie Margrit Gass, Basel, CH
 Kunstverein Konstanz, DE
1994Espace des Arts, Chalon-Sur-Saône, FR
 Kunstverein Ulm, DE
 Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, DE
1993Städtische Kunstsammlungen Chemnitz, Chemnitz, DE
1992Galerie Springer, Berlin, DE
1991magica II, Lichtinstallation, Kunst-Werke, Berlin, DE
1986der keller, Galerie EIGEN + ART, Leipzig, DE

group exhibitions (selection)

2024"Poetics of Encryption", KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin, DE
2023"Tribute to RYUICHI SAKAMOTO: Music / Art / Media", ICC, Tokyo, JP
 "Shanghai Biennale 2023: Cosmos Cinema", Shanghai, CN
 "LUX: Poetic Resolution", Dongdaemun Design Plaza, Seoul, KR
 "Oku-Noto Triennale 2023", Suzu, JP
 "Synesthetic Immersion", 0xCollection, Prague, CZ
 "Glitch. Die Kunst der Störung", Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, DE
 "Art in Motion", Shenzhen Museum of Contemporary Art and Urban Planning (MOCAUP), CN
2022"Broken Music Extended", Hamburger Bahnhof — Nationalgalerie der Gegenwart, Berlin, DE
 "Art and Industry", Ulsan Art Museum, KR
 "Homosphäre", Kunsthalle Mainz, DE
 "Freezing Point — Kunst unter Null Grad Celsius", Villa Merkel, Esslingen, DE
2021"Calder Now", Kunsthalle Rotterdam, NL
 "Ti Zero", Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Rome, IT
 "Orchestral Manoeuvres: SeeSound. Feel Sound. Be Sound", ArtScience Museum, SG
 "Sound and Silence", Kunstmuseum Bonn, DE
2020"Audiosphere. Sound Experimentation 1980-2020", Museo Reina Sofía, Madrid, ES
 "Technology Transformation. Fotografie und Video in der Kunstsammlung", Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, DE
 "STUDIO BERLIN", Berghain, Berlin, DE
 "Doppelleben", Bundeskunsthalle Bonn, DE
2019"SWEET HARMONY: RAVE | TODAY", Saatchi Gallery, London, UK
 "BIG ORCHESTRA", Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt, DE
 "ELECTRO", Philharmonie de Paris, FR
2018"RASTER-NOTON: WHITE CIRCLE", Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus, Munich, DE
 "Doppelleben", mumok, Vienna, AT
2017"How beautiful it is and how easily it can be broken", Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (S.M.A.K.), Ghent, BE
 "Extended Compositions", Pasquart Kunsthaus Centre d'Art, Biel, CH
2016"Datumsoria", Chronus Art Center, Shanghai, CN
 "Resound", Simons Center for Geometry and Physics, New York, US
 "On Surface", Lehmbruck Museum, Duisburg, DE
 "Ghost in the machine - reading room/ materials selected by carsten nicolai", EIGEN + ART Lab, Berlin, DE
 "Wrap around the time", Nam June Paik Art Center, Gyeonggi-do, KR
 "Mam Screen 003: crossing visions", Mori Art Musuem, Tokyo, JP
 "Open House", ibid gallery, Los Angeles, US
 "Otic", New Media Gallery, Vancouver, CA
2015"'Geniale Dilletanten'. Subkultur der 1980er-Jahre in Deutschland", Haus der Kunst, Munich, DE
 "Eppur si muove", Mudam Luxembourg - Musée d'Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean, LU
 "Walk the Line/Neue Wege der Zeichnung", Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, DE
 "Simple Forms: Contemplating Beauty", Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, JP
 "Listening to the Lines", Maison Hermès Ginza le Forum, Tokyo, JP
 "Quantum of Disorder", Museum Haus Konstruktiv, Zurich, CH
 "Extended Compositions", Kunstquartier Bethanien, Berlin, DE
2014National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Seoul, KR
 "Reines Wasser", LENTOS Kunstmuseum Linz, AT
 "One Place Next To Another", Winzavod Centre for Contemporary Art, Moscow, RU
 "Art or Sound", Prada Foundation, Venice, IT
 "City and Nature", Sapporo International Art Festival, JP
2013"Soundings: a contemporary score", MoMA, New York, US
 "The magnetic north", Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Copenhagen, DK
 "Noise", di Arte Assoziazione, Venice, IT
 "Fragile?", Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice, IT
 "System und Sinnlichkeit", Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin, DE
2012"A House Full of Music", Mathildenhöhe, Darmstadt, DE
 "Rasterfahndung", Kunstmuseum Stuttgart, DE
 "Sound Art. Sound as a Medium of Art", ZKM, Karlsruhe, DE
 "Echigo Tsumari Triennial 2012", Echigo-Tsumari Art Center, Tokamachi, JP
 "Art & Music. Search for a new synestesia", MOT, Toyko, JP
2011"Our Magic Hour", Yokohama Triennale, Yokohama, JP
2010"Seconde Nature", Fondation Vasarely, Aix en Provence, FR
 "Rudolf Steiner und die Kunst der Gegenwart", Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, DE
 "Biennale für Internationale Lichtkunst", Unna, DE
2009"Barock", Madre, Naples, IT
 "See This Sound", Kunstmuseum Linz, AT
 "4th Digital Art Festival Taipei", Digital Arts Centre, Taipei, TW
 "The Kaleidoscopic eye", Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, JP
2008"Leben", Kunsthaus Graz, AT
 "Open Space", NTT Intercommunication Center [ICC], Tokyo, JP
 "Art on air", Weserburg - Museum für Moderne Kunst, Bremen, DE
2007"2nd Moskow Biennale", Moskow, RU
 "Konstellationen ll", Städel Museum, Frankfurt/Main, DE
 "MARTa schweigt", MARTa Herford, DE
 "Space for your future", Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, JP
2006"Singapore Biennal", SG
 "Still Points of the Turning World", 6th Int. Biennale Santa Fe/New Mexico, US
 "Sonambiente 2006", TESLA, Berlin, DE
2005"Künstler.Archiv", Akademie der Künste, Berlin, DE
2004"Densité ±0", École nationale des beaux arts, Paris, FR / Fribourg, CH
2003"La Biennale di Venezia 50", Venice, IT
 "Berlin-Moskau / Moskau-Berlin 1950-2000", Martin Gropius-Bau, Berlin, DE / Moscow, RU
 "Echigo Tsumari Triennial 2003", Echigo-Tsumari, Tokamachi, JP
 "The 10th New York Digital Saloon", New York, US
2002"Frequenzen (hz)", Schirn Kunsthalle, Frankfurt/Main, DE
2001"Wild Zone", Witte de With, Rotterdam, NL
 "Perspectives", MICAMOCA, Milan, IT
 "La Biennale di Venezia 49", Venice, IT
 "Quobo, Art in Berlin 89-99", Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, DE
 "Istanbul Biennial", Istanbul, TR
 "Audible Images", The Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago, US
2000"Sound Art", NTT InterCommunication Center [ICC], Tokyo, JP
 "Volume", PS1, New York, US
 "Taktlos", Bern, CH
1999"Examining Pictures: exhibiting paintings", Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, UK / Museum Of Contemporary Art, Chicago, US
 "Empty Garden", WATARI-UM, Watari Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, JP
 "Liverpool Biennial", Liverpool, UK
1997"Documenta X", Kassel, DE
 "PS1 reopening", New York, US
1996"Projektor" (with Olaf Nicolai), Städtisches Kunstmuseum Reutlingen, DE
 "All+Tag" (with Mika Vainio), Industriemuseum Chemnitz, DE / US
1994"Welt-Moral", Kunsthalle Basel, CH
 "Metropole und Peripherie", Museum de Arte Moderna MAM, Rio de Janeiro, BR
1993"Ein Jahrhundert des Holzschnitts", Kunsthalle Hamburg, DE
 "Cadavre Exquis", Drawing Center, New York, US