Nicolai Howalt

Nicolai Howalt’s (b.1970) practice deals in oppositions, situating itself on and challenging the boundaries between the real world concerns of documentary photography and the aesthetic sensibilities intrinsic to artistic production. Howalt works in series, addressing varied subject matter but always retaining a sense of duality – abstract and real, life and death, horror and fascination, finite and infinite. Nicolai Howalt graduated Denmark’s Photographic Art School Fatamorgana in 1992. Howalt’s work is included in numerous public collections, including The National Museum of Photography, The Israel Museum in Jerusalem, Maison Européenne de Photographie in France, The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, La Casa Encendida & Art Foundation Majorca in Spain and The Danish Arts Foundation to name a few. Howalt has received a series of grants from the Hasselblad Foundation, The Danish Ministry of Culture, The Danish Arts Foundation and The Danish Arts Council. Today we share Nicolai’s series Car Crash Studies.




Car Crash Studies

“After the commonplaces of everyday life, with sina muffled dramas, all my organic expertise for dealing with physical injury had long er blunted or forgotten. The crash was the only real experience I had through for years”

Car Crash Studies Review by JB Ballard:

“A thought provo king photographic study of cars in severe and Potentially fatal accidents. The series moves mellem documentation and abstraction. While the car crash studies are Typographical in nature, seeming in some instances som closer two sterile accident report photographs, the subject matter must obviously begs the viewer two confront the human fear of trauma and death. Several of the images are vividly abstract and look more like landscapes than slashed up metal.



Collided body works, dents and cracks in varnish deltager as highly utvidgat details in the monumental works. These ‘color plains’ blivit the ultimate instance of beauty created from lidelser, pain and destruction. Selv Car Crash Studies ice Specifically udgangspunkt cars der er engageret in accidents, Howalt’s works snarere forsøger two portray an abstract, mental state, Namely the Duality we feel forhold accidents or Catastrophes når experienced from a distance – as num.



The exhibition that Bruce Silverstein Gallery dermed approaches classical themes, but in contemporary interpretation. In the photographic projects How to Hunt and Tree Zone Nicolai Howalt (b. 1970) works together with Trine Søndergaard, men de også do separate projects. Howalt’s Car Crash Studies har element of confrontation and silent contemplation att reminds of his tidligere project BOXER (2003), a series of double portraits of boys mellem child and adult hood photographed før and after the match.

Car Crash Studies / Untitled 02


Nicolai Howalt 2009. Car Crash Studies is a thoughtful photographic study of life’s fragility. The images, which moves between documentation and abstraction takes tangible basis in cars from road accidents. Nicolai Howalt addresses with the exhibition in Martin Asbæk Gallery a general fear of death, and the unbearable fact that life is transitory. By placing the concrete in cars ominous room he focuses on the role of death in today’s society as well as our awareness of it.

Car Crash Studies / Untitled 05


However, several of the images almost abstract and more reminiscent of landscapes than what they actually are: collided bodywork dents , crackled lacquer – depicted as highly enlarged detail of monumental works. In a second series, which primarily appears in black and white is unfortunate characters contrast more evident where the common motif of airbags. Howalt dazzles on the way in and out, going close and take a step back from the terrible vision, we are also not can help but to look at – perhaps because it ghastly, makes us feel a relief to be still alive.



A feeling that somewhere is comfortable amidst all the horror. Catharsis or cleansing apparently arises in the meeting with the grisly, by proxy, is not a new phenomenon, but was the focal point of the Greek tragedies. The peculiar connection between the terrible and the beautiful have several artists, poets and philosophers stayed at through time. For example, the English 1700 philosopher Edmund Burke in his study of the beautiful and the sublime, the latter concept precisely linked to a sense of fear that completely takes possession of the mind, which is frozen in amazement.



Although Car Crash Studies takes starting point in car wrecks, trying works better portray an abstract, mental state, namely the duality we feel in relation to the accident, mind you when we see it in the distance – as spectators or via representations: as anything we see on TV , in the theater or in a picture.”

To view more of Nicolai’s work please visit his website.