Christian Nicolay is a Canadian interdisiplinary artist working between Kelowna and Vancouver BC. His diverse body of work employs a wide range of media and techniques often seeking pathways that intercept traditional ways of working with materials. Part of his artistic strategy is to examine and play in liminal areas that are hard to define, often challenging common perceptions of borders and boundaries in relation to process, materiality and function.
In an earlier work Nicolay hitchhiked across Canada with a wooden chair mapping his travels of the unusual and unexpected moments of transition between moving and sitting. This became a strategy of making people aware of art in practice by blurring the line between art and the everyday. He also did a 364-foot unauthorized climbing of Lions Gate Bridge in Vancouver BC transforming it into a musical instrument entitled Taking the bridge. The Day Job, an ongoing work that started in 2003 incorporates hiding as he puts, "silent graffiti" inside the backs of artworks at hotels, institutions and libraries without detection. In Where I Lay My Head is Home (2006-Ongoing) Nicolay photographs himself lying face down in prominent locations around the world as a reaction and counterbalance to the cliché tourist photo or “selfie”. Temporary Landscapes (2015-Ongoing) modifies found and salvaged wooden shipping pallets into "sculptural graffiti", sometimes by integrating tracking devices into the structures and then leaving them in unsuspecting alleyways to be found, moved, destroyed or collected. Collaboration with artists from various fields draws on his curiosity of finding the things that connect what seem to be disparate practices, usually taking shape in the form of performances, concept albums and installations.
Nicolay graduated from the University of British Columbia (UBC-Okanagan) receiving the Helen Pitt Award in 2000. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and has been the recipient of several awards, grants, honours and residencies. Selected exhibitions and screenings have been included at The Shadbolt Centre for the Arts, Canada (2023); TRAPP Projects, Canada (2022); Mnemosphere Project, Italy (2021); VIVO Media Arts Centre, Canada (2020); StaamUp, Netherlands (2020); MADATAC X Media Art Festival, Spain (2019); Cinémathèque de Grenoble, France (2018); Cinemateca, South America (2018); Kimoto Galley, Canada (2018, 2017, 2016); 17th Media Art WRO Biennale, Poland (2017); Kunst Film Festival #3, Germany (2017); International Short Film Festival, Belgium (2017); Absolute Space for the Arts, Taiwan (2016, 2015); 7th Cairo Video Festival, Egypt (2015); National Art Gallery, Thailand (2015); VAEFF, Video Art and Experimental Film Festival, USA (2014); Initial Gallery, Canada (2014); Art Experience Gallery, Hong Kong (2013); SESIFF The 5th Seoul International Extreme-Short Image and Film Festival, Korea (2013); ANEMIC: Independent Film and New Media Festival, Czech Republic (2012); Schmiede Art Festival, Austria (2012); Museum of Medical Humanities, Taiwan (2012); Elliott Louis Gallery, Canada (2012, 2006, 2005); CAMP Talganie Museum, Japan (2011); Esplanade Art Gallery, Canada (2009); ME’D1.ATE Network, USA (2008); Fundacion Octaedro, South America (2007); Eastern Edge Gallery, Canada (2005); Kelowna Art Gallery, Canada (2004), Trinity Square Video, Canada (2001) and the Galerie Verticale, Canada (2000).
He has worked as an artist in residence in Burnaby BC Canada, Deer Lake (2022); Enschede Netherlands, ARE (2018); Jyväskylä Finland, Äkkigalleria (2015 & 2010); Taipei Taiwan, Taipei Artist Village TAV (2010); Toronto ON Canada, NAISA, Deep Wireless Festival, Charles Street Video (2006) and Kelowna BC Canada, Alternator Gallery (2004). He was the recipient of Canada Council visual and media arts travel grants (2000 & 2006); the Judges award winner at the Make it Short Film Festival, Portland OR USA (2012) and Honorable Mention for Dave Bown Projects - 11th Semiannual Competition (2015).