Olaf Breuning travelled the world to make a film called 'Home'. He went to the Easter Islands with bunny ears in his luggage and hi-jacked the Occupy-protests for another video piece. Did he simply have to do this? The answer is no, and exactly that makes it so hard to describe Breuning’s work in words.
His images are populated by castaways, hobos and cowboys, comical ghosts and spaced-out hippies. His scenarios include dead ends, nondescript interiors, barns, islands, parking lots and forests. Everything is suspected to mean something; elaborate traps and seductive clichés lure for their prey. The naïve and the exaggerated, the fantastic and the absurd, the primitive and the mythical: Breuning has been described as a hunter of the 21st century: ravening everything between highbrow and lowbrow, art or pop references.
The perfect illumination and the grimy props, the impeccable composition and the twinkle-toed improvisation that characterize most of his works, are neither contradictions nor coincidences. The tableaux-esque layout and the narrative structure oscillate in a way that constantly evades a conclusion. As with Breuning’s much beloved Smoke Bombs, we wait for things to clear up, a breeze to turn the page. Yet, like most protagonists in his pictures, our interpretations stare right back at us, reflecting each individual universe of symbols, meanings and stereotypes. Comical and tragic, absurd but familiar, grotesque yet appealing: like life, like art.
Olaf Breuning’s series “Camelops Femina” was developed especially for the exhibition in Dubai. The show has an extinct species of camels that wandered across North America thousands of years ago as a namegiver: not only humanized, but feminized by Breuning in a series of photographs. Imagine the Cremaster doing cosplay, a game of make-believe: an almost mythical creature long vanished from earth as a subject of something as mundane as a fashion-esque photoshoot? As for Breuning, anything goes, and the answers the enchanted viewer is seeking, lie in the creature’s nonchalant and seductive gaze.