Nik Nowak
No Silence for the Great Leader
12×12. The IBB video space at Berlinische Galerie
Sept 09 – Oct 01, 2018

Nik Nowak is both an artist and a musician. In his art, expressed through different media, he often explores the effects of sound. He is particularly intrigued by the ambivalent role of sound systems as cultural catalysts but also acoustic weapons. Sound objects like Mobile Booster, Panzer (Tank) and Echodrohnen (Echo Drones) have attracted world-wide acclaim. In August 2017 Nowak joined a delegation of creatives to North Korea – at a time of great geopolitical tensions in the region and a verbal standoff between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un. The purpose of the trip was an exchange with artists at the University of Pyongyang, and various art projects and workshops were planned. Nowak wanted to make use of the sound systems facing each other along the demarcation line between North and South Korea and to play an identical sound on both, but with inverted phases so the sound waves would cancel each other out and create an “active silence”. The title of his project proposal: Symphony of Silence. When the North Korean authorities objected to the title of the work as well as to the use of military equipment and any propaganda loudspeakers, the plan was dropped. Rather than an exchange with local colleagues, the trip increasingly turned out to be a display of North Korean achievements. The film No Silence for the Great Leader (2017/18, 26 min.) records Nowak’s observations in the isolated country and his efforts to implement an alternative art project: as a kind of compensatory gesture he was finally allowed to play an acoustic collage over a public loudspeaker. It consisted of sounds imperceptible to the human ear that had been digitally processed to make them audible. Nik Nowak was born in Mainz in 1981. He studied at the University of the Arts (UdK) in Berlin and at Shanghai Normal University. Platforms for his work have so far included the Philharmonie de Paris, Art Basel in Miami, Museum Marta in Herford, n.b.k. in Berlin, HMKV in Dortmund and the Museum for Transitory Art in Ljubljana. In 2014 he was awarded the GASAG Art Prize, and as a result he has already exhibited at the Berlinische Galerie. Nik Nowak lives in Berlin.