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Exhibitions   /   Nicolai Howalt

Car Crash

Nicolai Howalt

20 . februar - 14. marts 2009



Car Crash Studies is a thought provoking photographic study of life's fragility. The images that move between documentation and abstraction are based on cars from traffic accidents.

Nicolai Howalt addresses in his exhibition at Martin Asbæk Gallery a general fear of death, and the intolerable fact that life is perishable.

Several of the images are almost abstract and look more like landscapes than what they actually are. Collided bodyworks, dents and cracks in varnish appear as highly enlarged details in the monumental works. Another series show more obvious signs of accidents in airbags that have been released.

In this way Howalt approaches and take a step back from the terrible sight, we find horrible but at the same time can not help but look at - maybe because it leads us to feel a relief to still be alive. This feeling of katharsis upon being confronted with the horror, per delegate, is not a new phenomenon, but the centerpiece of the Greek tragedies.

The curious connection between the horrible and the beautiful has been a topic for artists, poets and philosophers at all times. For example, the English 18th century philosopher Edmund Burke in his inquiry into the ideas of the beautiful and the sublime, where the latter is interpreted as a sense of horror, that astonishes the mind and soul completely.

Although Car Crash Studies is based on cars that have been involved in accidents Howalt’s works rather attempts to portray an abstract, mental state, namely the duality we feel in relation to accidents or catastrophes when experienced from a distance - as spectators, through representations: as something we watch on TV, in the theatre or in a picture.

The exhibition at Martin Asbæk Gallery thus approaches classical themes, but in contemporary interpretation. Car Crash Studies consists of an installation of light boxes on the floor as well as two series of works hanging on the walls.

In the photographic projects How to Hunt and Tree Zone Nicolai Howalt (b. 1970) works together with Trine Søndergaard, but they also do separate projects. Howalt’s Car Crash Studies has elements of confrontation and silent contemplation that reminds of his earlier project BOXER (2003), a series of double portraits of boys between child and adulthood photographed before and after the match.