Magazine article Artforum International

Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs: Raebervonstenglin

Magazine article Artforum International

Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs: Raebervonstenglin

Article excerpt

There is a specifically Swiss sense of humor--droll, dark, sweetly absurd, weirdly winning--that effortlessly explodes smallness yet resoundingly resists critical explanation. See, for example, Robert Walser's modernist literary set pieces that chart the delusions of grandeur of clerks who would be kings (i.e., all of us), or Fischli and Weiss's more profanely material take on the existential traffic between the provincial and the urbane. Another Swiss duo, Taiyo Onorato and Nico Krebs, might be the latest entry into this singular national lineage. For the past decade, the pair, who studied photography at the Ziircher Hochschule der Kiinste and have worked together since 2003, have created an image-obsessed oeuvre that has moved from the sly photographic series of modeled and real American road-trip shots in their book The Great Unreal (2009)--which took a decidedly less pathos-ridden stance than did their fellow countryman Robert Frank's The Americans (1958)--to their recent analog cameras crafted from tortoiseshells and stacks of art books.

Their newest body of work takes stock of their origins in photography, but also marries this reflective impulse to something less prosaic and more kinetic. Their recent show "Wozu Zeit" (Why Time) opened somewhat straight-facedly, with two rows of images--one color, one black-and-white--lining opposite walls. The color C-prints each feature a black background, dizzily broken by spectral, symmetrical forms in nearly fluorescent hues. Long exposures of handmade rotating devices, these images have a retro-futuristic look (they conjure the magic lanterns of early cinema, but also the glowing tracks of the 1982 sci-fi film Tron) neatly compounded by their faux-scientific titles: See 04 (magenta yellow) or 02 (green), both 2012.

The black-and-white images also feature specters, but of a different sort. …

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