Friday, 13 January 2012, 24:00 | midnight

#30: Niklas Goldbach

In many of his photographs and videos, Niklas Goldbach examines tensions between the individual and society, between architecture and nature. The selection Goldbach presents features a number of major construction projects, their visionary potential, their social implications, but also the failures. In Goldbach’s early works, people appear now and then in symbolic roles, but in the later, more conceptual films they vanish altogether. Meaning is invested instead in settings, whether built or natural. Goldbach uses artificial, almost immobilised spaces to explore social structures and visions, as well as issues like dominance and control.

Niklas Goldbach presents:

My Barrio, 2005, 19:14 min
My Barrio is the first in a series of videos about changes in urban culture and was filmed in the former eastern part of Berlin during the summer of 2004. Privatising public spaces is undermining the social structure of cities. The function of the architecture shown in My Barrio is to represent economic rather than social interests. Only a single man is walking through these artificial fake-public spaces, where he appears like a foreign body, conveying the frightening size of the project and the anti-humanistic concept inherent in this architecture. Through sound design, Christian Obermaier foregrounds the lost quality of the figure in places, sometimes stressing and caricaturing the architectonic spatial structure.

Habitat C3B, 2008, 7:37 min
Themes of conceptual repetition and displacement are central to the video work of Niklas Goldbach. The phenomenal context frames the disorienting effect set up by a story that has no beginning or end. In Habitat C3B we find a phenomenological non-narrative that presents itself as sequential repetitive events of both actions and participant, and whose meaning and comprehension is left largely to the viewer. In a world that is now overwhelmingly mediated by images the videos of Goldbach present a sense of fragmented punctum, a partial sensory poignancy that becomes a self fulfilling end in itself. Today we increasingly build our picture of the world (habitat) from the part-narrative of purely sensory experiences such as these. – Mark Gisbourne

TEN, 2010, 12:10 min
Niklas Goldbachs TEN is an allegory of the intransparency of the power elite. The gathering of a group of ten men, taking decisions over fate and doom in ambiguous rituals, oscillates between dystopic fiction and a relentless survey: freed from emotions or distinctions, the Ten, all of them one and the same person, are trapped between elite representational behavior and lethargic activities. The view behind the scenes of a summit meeting on a stage of a sterile and de-individualized luxurious suite including the tableaus of Athens by night, anticipates a climax of a fragile system of power, ultimately trying to preserve itself through the performance of its own iconography and traditional allocation of roles.  – Viktor Neumann

Bel Air, 2011, 8:04 min
The video installation Bel Air shows the power struggle of four men (all played by German actor Christoph Bach) during a road trip through the Everglades National Park.


Niklas Goldbach (b. 1973 in Witten, Germany) lives and works in Berlin. After studying Sociology at Bielefeld University and “Photography and Video” at the University of Applied Sciences Bielefeld, he was awarded with a “Meisterschüler” degree at the University of the Arts Berlin in 2006. In 2005 he received the Fulbright Grant New York and majored in the MFA program of Hunter College, New York City.

Niklas Goldbach received several scholarships (i.e. Stiftung Kunstfonds Bonn 2010, Arbeitsstipendium Bildende Kunst des Berliner Senats 2013) and has presented his works in numerous solo shows, group exhibitions, and festivals in venues as the Museum der Moderne, Salzburg, Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid, Mori-Art Museum, Tokyo, Neuer Berliner Kunstverein n.bk., Cornerhouse, Manchester, National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taichung, Centre Pompidou, Paris, Berlinische Galerie Museum for Contemporary Art Berlin and the Short Film Festival Oberhausen.

Niklas Goldbach’s web site: