Jan ‘Nikolai’ Nelles is a multi-disciplinary artist based in Berlin. 

His artistic practise oscillates between media and fine art, documentary filmmaking and cultural activism. It reflects on the absurdity of the human conditions and deals with issues arising through hegemonic and neo-colonial power structures and representations between the Global South and North as well as with the various facets of war and its aftermath. This artistic practice is research based and interferes in social infrastructures by misbehaviour performances or challenges institutions through civil disobedience, challanging the limits of the artistic freedom. He pursues a critical re-evaluation of actual cultural commons, the power of representation through material objects of other cultures, their digital image as well as the concepts of heritage and identity politics.

He graduated from Offenbach University of Art and Design in 2011. In the past he founded an independent ‘project space’ in Frankfurt/Main, Germany, and co-founded a photography magazine. Since 2009 he often works as a artist duo with Nora Al-Badri.

There work was featured at The New York Times, BBC, The Times, Artnet, Wired, Le Monde Afrique, Financial Times, Arte TV, The Independent, New Statesmen, Hyperallergic, Smithonian, Al Ahram, Egypt Today, Vice, Hürriyet, Dezeen, Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, Spiegel Online, Heise, The Boston Globe, Dezeen, Archdaily, Polska, La informacion, De Volkskrant, Gizmodo, New Scientist, Popular Science, The Verge amongst others.

His works were granted by several institutions: Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW), Goethe-Institute, Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen (IfA), German Federal Foreign Office and European Cultural Foundation (ECF).

Curriculum Vitae 

Studio Nelles, 10969 Berlin
nikolai (ä) alloversky.com

Represented by Nome Gallery


2018 upcoming
Group exhibition, Victoria&Albert Museum, London

2018    Group exhibition, Walk&Talk Public Art Circuit, Azores

2018    Drehmoment. Das Produktionskunst-Festival, Stuttgart

2018     HERE IS WHAT I FOUND ON THE WEB: Artificial Intelligence Today, NRW Forum, Düsseldorf

2018     FAKE, Science Gallery, Dublin

2018     ‘Open Codes’, ZKM, Karlsruhe

2018     ‘Metadata. How We Relate to Images’, Warburg Institute and Lethaby Gallery, London

2018     Performersion- Re:publica, Berlin

2017     ‘Networking the Unseen’ Villa Merkel,  Esslingen

2017     ‘3. Berliner Herbstsalon’, Gorki Theater, Berlin

2017     20th anniversary of faces at Schaumbad, Graz

2017     Abandon Normal Devices, Manchester

2017     Solo exhibition, Aksioma - Institute for Contemporary Art, Ljubljana

2017     When Machines are Dreaming’, Datenspuren Festival Chaos Computer Club, Dresden

2017     ‘Indexmakers’, Centre régional d’art contemporain, Montbélliard

2017     Solo exhibition, NOME Galerie, Berlin

2017-2018     ‘3D. Printing the World’, Space Fundación Telefónica, Madrid, Peru

2017     Gray Area Festival Art& Technology, San Francisco, USA

2017     ‘No Copyright Infringement Intended’, Vivid Projects, Birmingham and Phoenix, Leicester

2017     ‘Evidentiary Realism’, curated by Paolo Cirio, Fridman Gallery and NOME Galerie, New York City / Berlin

2017     ‘Flow of Forms / Forms of Flow’, Museum Fünf Kontinente, München

2016     ‘Are we human?’, 3rd Design Biennal, curated by Anselm Franke, Istanbul

2016     ‘A World of Fragile Parts’ by Viktoria and Albert Museum, Applied Arts Pavilion at La Biennale di Venezia

2016    ‘Un•or•tho•dox’ with Group Bouillon, with Joanna Warsza, Uqbar, Berlin

2015     ‘The Other Nefertiti’, Something Else Off Biennale curated by Simon Njami, Cairo

2015     ‘We Refugees’, Millerntor Gallery, Hamburg

2015     ‘The Heavy Petting Gallery’, Kreuzberg Pavillon, Berlin

2015     ‘We Refugees’, solo exhibition, Galerie Salon Petra Rietz, Berlin

2014     ‘Existence in Transition’, Federal Foreign Office, Berlin

2014     ‘Revolution’, Kunstverein Tiergarten/ Galerie Nord, Berlin

2014     ‘Living Equestrian Statues’, solo exhibition, Team Titanic, Berlin

2013     ‘Artivists for Change’ intervention Biennale 4 Thessaloniki, Greece

2013     ‘Nuda Veritas’ street-art intervention, Tahrir Square Cairo, Egypt

2012     ‘Spieglein, Spieglein..’, group exhibition, Fotografie Forum Frankfurt

2012     Rundgang Hochschule für Gestaltung, Offenbach am Main

2012     Darmstädter Tage der Fotografie, group exhibition, Darmstadt

2011     ‘Herrscherbilder und politische Kommunikation’, GIZ, Frankfurt

2011     ‘Der Tycoon’, guerilla placarding at Occupy EZB, Frankfurt

Grants and Residencies

2017 Schloss Solitude Web Residency/ ZKM Karlsruhe with “NefertitiBot”

2017 Artist scholarship, City of Berlin/Senate

2017 Longlist Preis der Deutschen Nationalgalerie

2017 Research Grant Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW)

2017 Artists in Residence, Techne Institute, Buffalo University, USA

2015 Grant Goethe Institute Cairo, The Other Nefertiti exhibition and travel grant

2015 Travel Grant European Cultural Foundation

2015 Grant Federal Foreign Office, art in public space project in Georgia, Tbilisi

2013 Grant ‚Künstlerkontakte’ from IfA-Institute

2013 Artivists for Change (Goethe Institute and European Cultural Foundation)

Lecturing, Teaching and Curating

2016-today curating Chaos Communication Congress, Arts & Culture Track

2018 Artist Talk and lecture, UCL, Digital Anthropology, London

2018 Lecture, Postcolonial Digital Connections,Center for Interdisciplinary Area

Studies (ZIRS) at Halle University and UCL Department of Anthropology

2018 Panel Discussion with British Museum and V&A, Warburg Institute and Central

Saint Martins College, London

2017 Lecture, The Influencers festival, Barcelona

2017 Lecture ReACH-Initiative about heritage and digitization with Louvre, V&A,

Pergamon Museum, Smithsonian, Abu Dhabi

2017 Lecture and Workshop, FH Joanneum, University of Applied Sciences, Graz

2017 Lecture and Artist Talk, Drugo More, Croatia

2017 Untie to tie, Gallery reflections at Ifa Gallery, Berlin

2017 Identitätspolitik und Kunst: Der Kampf um das Ich, Good to talk with Monopol

Magazine, Berghain Kantine, Berlin

2017 Migros Foundation: On the public domain, Basel

2017 Keynote lecture, Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe Hamburg, sharecarex

2017 Symposium “Fossil Futures. Decolonizing Dinosaurs” with Prof. W.J.T. Mitchell

and Denny Gayton/ Standing Rock at Techne Institute, University of Buffalo

2017 Artist talk, Massachusetts College of Art and Design

2016 Keynote at Statens Museum for Kunst, Educational Perspectives in CHI's in a Digital Age, Copenhagen

2016 Discussing Postcolonial Computing, Workshop, Chaos Communication

Congress, Hamburg

2016 Observe!, Boell Foundation, Berlin

2016 Hack4DK- Hack your Heritage, The Agency for Culture and Palaces, Copenhagen

2016 Unlearning the Given – Exercises in Demodernity and Decoloniality of Ideas and

Knowledge, SAVVY, Berlin

2016 Presentation for students, Villa Arson, Nice

2016 SIPPA - Salon International des Professionnels des Patrimoines Arles, France

2016 Summerschool, for students University of Buffalo, USA in Berlin

2016 #NefertitiHack at Maker Space FOSSASIA, Singapore

2015 The Mummy Unwrapped, Chaos Communication Camp 32C3, Hamburg

2015 The Other Nefertiti symposium with Prof. Susanne Leeb (Leuphana Uni), Simon

Njami, Dr. Monica Hanna, Alexander Koch (KOW) Goethe Institute, Cairo 

Istanbul Design Biennial 
The the work “Nuda Veritas” (ar: " الحقيقة العارية") from 2013 is curated by Anselm Franke to join the Istanbul Design Biennial 2016 within a groupshow relecting on the significance of wheat for the origins of society. 

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Hack4DK - Hack your heritage!  

The Statens Museum for Kunst / The National Gallery of Denmark invietes us to held the kick-off lecture and workshop at the annule Hack4DK event and conference on September 23rd to 25th in Copenhagen.

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Biennale Architettura 2016 - Venice Biennale for Architecture with V&A

Glad to announce the participation with “The Other Nefertiti” in ‘A World of Fragile Parts’, Special Project of Applied Arts Pavilion organized Victoria and Albert Museum London and realized by La Biennale di Venezia, starting at May 28th 2016, Sale d’Armi A, Arsenale.

“In ‘A World of Fragile Parts’, La Biennale di Venezia and the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) explore the threats facing the preservation of global heritage sites and how the production of copies can aid in the preservation of cultural artifacts.

More information here

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SIPPA - Salon International des Professionnels des Patrimoines à Arles

Talk at SIPPA from May 25. - May 27.2016 in Arles, France.
More information you can find here.

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SAVVY Contemporary – Unlearning the Given
#NefertitiHack is part of the long night of ideas UNLEARNING THE GIVEN
Exercises in Demodernity and Decoloniality of Ideas and Knowledge

April 14th, 2016 | All night: 6pm-6am
SAVVY Contemporary | Plantagenstraße 31 | 13347 Berlin-Wedding
more info

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An exhibition at Uqbar, Berlin with collective works by Group Bouillon (Tbilisi) and Nora Al-Badri / Jan Nikolai Nelles (Berlin)

Opening: Friday, April 15, 2016, 7 p.m. with an introduction by Joanna Warsza
Finissage: Sunday, May 1, 2016, 3 – 8 p.m.
Duration: April 16, – May 1, 2016
Uqbar, Berlin

"The televangelist watched in disbelief in the mirror. Hesitantly, he raised his finger and his reflection gave him a truth. Convinced he pulled out a wad of cash, and added an extra $ 10 on the mattress."

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Talk at FOSSASIA in Singapore with the title "#NefertitiHack and Cultural Commons",
Mar 18.2016 at 11:30 at Marquea Theatre.
more info

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Lecture at Chaos Communication Camp 32c3
We were pleased to be invited at the greatest hacker convention from Chaos Computer Club to launch the 3D data of Nefertiti and to talk about the artistic intervention “The Other Nefertiti” in December 2015. You can watch the lecture “The Mummy Unwrapped. Cultural Commons durch Kunstraub” here in German or English.

From today on everybody around the world can access, study, print or remix a 3D dataset of Nefertitis head in high resolution. This data will be accessible without any charge under a public domain as a 100 MB downloadable STL-file. At this link you will find a torrent to access the dataset:

Visit our Nefertiti Hack Website to download 3D data from Nefertiti Bust. Or download torrent file directly.

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The Actuality of the Ancient – Talk in Cairo on “The Other Nefertiti

The panel discussion was a part of the exhibition „The Other Nefertiti“ and was initiated by the artists
Nora Al-Badri and Jan Nikolai Nelles and supported by the Goethe Institute Cairo.

– Dr. Monica Hanna, Archaeologist American University Cairo
– Alexander Koch, KOW Galerie Berlin and Noveaux Commanditaires e.V.
– Prof. Susanne Leeb, Leuphana University Lüneburg
– Simon Njami, art critic, curator, author

You can watch the full recorded discussion on youtube here.

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Project contributors: Ajmal, Ali, Amer, Daniel, Hassan, Husam, Mohamed, Muhammad, Noor, Omar, Rami and Rawia.
With friendly support by Petra Rietz Salon Galerie and d’mage Berlin.

more info.. 

Spiegel Online „Ein Gegenstück zum Flüchtlingsporno“ Interview, 18.09.2015

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Existence in Transition
photo exhibition, group show Berlin, Germany

The photo exhibition “Existence in Transition” on the occasion of the “Conference on the Syrian Refugee Situation – Supporting Stability in the Region” at the German Federal Foreign Office. The exhibition aims to open up an additional perspective to what is usually presented by the media. Its concern is not a larger political context, or how to manage the high numbers of refugees. The subject of the exhibition is the Syrian citizen as an individual, the homeless, the displaced, whose dignity must be respected. The photographies by nine international artists and journalists depict the basic needs of people living in refugee camps, like shelter, supply of water, education and medical care. Above all the pictures artistically convey emotions or symbolic meanings that go beyond pure informational content. They offer the audience an understanding of the refugees themselves respectivily their situation within a shattered world. The collection of images is attempting to reduce the viewer’s inner distance towards the refugees and thereby is an appeal for humanity. The contributing photographers are: Bryan Denton (USA/Lebanon), David Gross (USA), Muhammad Hamed (Jordan), Randa Mirza (Lebanon), Jan Nikolai Nelles (Germany), Andrew Quilty (Australia/Afghanistan) and UNRWA (UN Relief Works Agency)

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6th International Sculpture Symposium Amman, Jordan

The wooden structure is located next to the headquarters of the security of the university of Amman. This location is chosen to create a relation between the piece and the people, who work there everyday. Furthermore it points out the context of a country like Jordan, which is surrounded by several violent conflicts.

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Artivists for Change
Thessaloniki, Greece

Invited through the ‚Artivists for Change-Program’ by the Goethe Institut to take part as an artist collectiv. Nora Al-Badri and me realized two intervention during the ‚4te Thessaloniki Biennale of Contemporary Art’ in Greece.

The first one was an Remake of the famous Bed-in by Yoko Ono and John Lennon. It took place in Thessalonikis city center shopping area in Egnatia St. and instead of protesting for World peace the artists bedded themselves for the freedom of consumption.


Could the Nefertiti Scan Be a Hoax — and Does that Matter?
Hyperallergic.com, March 9, 2016

Swiping a Priceless Antiquity ... With a Scanner and a 3-D Printer
New York Times, MARCH 1, 2016

Artists Covertly Scan Bust of Nefertiti and Release the Data for Free Online,
Hyperallergic.com, February 19, 2016

Artists Return Nefertiti Bust to Egypt Thanks to Covert 3-D Scanning
artnet news, 25.02.2016

Nefertiti bust secretly scanned by artists so everyone can 3D print one at home for free
International Business Times UK-‎Feb 24, 2016‎

Thanks to Sneaky Scanners, Anyone Can 3D Print a Copy of...

Artists 'steal' Queen Nefertiti bust by secretly scanning and releasing 3D printing data online
The Independent-Feb 25, 2016‎

"The copy in contemporary culture is both despised and feared"

Néfertiti s’est fait hacker
The Creators Project- 24.02.2016

Nefertiti for everyone: returning Egypt's cultural history with the help...
New Statesman-02.03.2016

Artists Covertly Scanned Bust of Nefertiti With Xbox 360 Kinect to Protest Museum's Artifact Looting
The Mary Sue-Feb 23, 2016

You're Reading: fastcoexist / Artists Secretly 3-D Scanned Queen...

Guerrilla artists secretly 3D-scan Nefertiti's bust

Artists Have Secretly 3D-Scanned Nefertiti's Bust For Anyone to Print

Freiheit für Nofretete!,
Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, 29. Nov. 2015

Freiheit für Nofretete!
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung Online, 29. Nov. 2015

Le projet de deux artistes pour rendre le buste de Nefertiti aux Egyptiens,
Le Mond Afrique, 17.12.2015

رأس أخرى لـ"نفرتيتي"
Al Ahram, egyptian newspaper [Arabic]

"Ein Gegenstück zum Flüchtlingsporno"
Interview on We Refugees, Spiegel Online, 18.09.2015


Arte Tracks  [ DE / FR and  ES / ENG subtitles ] on ‪#‎nefertitihack‬ and revealing insights of our upcoming project around the fiction and friction of a Tanzanian Dinosaurs in Berlin.

BBC Newsnight on “The Other Nefertiti”
(you can watch the show only from UK)

Interview by BR on heritage policies:

Nofretete für alle
Deutschlandradio Kultur, 25. Februar 2016, Länge 05:02 Minuten  [German]

Nofretete 3D für alle , Beate Barrein
NDRkultur, 28.12.2015, Länge: 03:30 [German]