artist / participant
Loneliness, uncertainty, and malaise of the contemporary subject are at the heart of Dutch artist Erwin Olaf’s exhibit Erwin Olaf: The Empire of Illusion. Through a series of captivating photographs and videos the artist turns the spectator into a voyeur with a privileged view of the private and semi-private spaces that we inhabit.
Since the 1990s Olaf has been internationally known for works that are explicit and polemic relating to gender, sexuality, beauty, and violence. Olaf is one of the leading pioneers of the so-called "staged photography." In this exhibition Olaf presents a series of themes revolving around family, school, politics and the individual who in turn embody the moral, political, and social structures of our society.
Spanish curator Paco Barragán has selected 8 video works and 26 photographs made between 2004 and today. "This selection represents"—according to the curator—"an overview of 10 years in which complex, fragmented, and ‘liquid’ social narratives convey the alienation of the contemporary subject under the weight of social taboos and conventions."
Unlike his earlier depictions of public spaces, in these newer works we enter into the realm of the private and the personal, exploring themes like the home —Separation, Rain, Keyhole, Grief, Dusk & Dawn, Le Dernier Cri—, the shower—Wet—, the hotel room—Hotel—or semi-private ones like the interior of a class room—Hope— or a freemason’s lodge—Berlin.
Erwin Olaf: The Empire of Illusion gives the spectator exclusive access to a highly intimate world where fact and fiction go hand in hand in a remarkable manner: while everything is possible, nothing seems to be true. Olaf’s cinematic videos and photographs reflect the failure of grand narratives and the resulting confusion of the contemporary self in his or her search for micro-narratives that might somehow lead them towards a substantiated life.
Olaf is basically the illusionist that parts the curtain that conceals our deepest truths.
Curator: Paco Barragán