Magazine article Artforum International

Erwin Olaf: Hasted Kraeutler

Magazine article Artforum International

Erwin Olaf: Hasted Kraeutler

Article excerpt

Erwin Olaf

HASTED KRAEUTLER

At once staged and manicured, Erwin Olaf's photographs put us in a suspenseful space. The key to this exhibition--and, more specifically, to nine of the twenty-two works on view--was a video clip in the multimedia installation Waiting, 2014, which shows a young woman, her clothes stylishly simple, her expression demure and revealing her to be lost in self-absorption, sitting at a table in a chic restaurant. The chair opposite her is empty; she's waiting for someone--presumably a male companion as handsome as she is beautiful--to join her. We, the spectators, face her, but she's not waiting for us. She thumbs through a menu, no sign of impatience furrowing her features. There's an air of bated breath; we don't know the end to this story.

This same scenario--the presentation of a fashionable, seemingly self-possessed, classy young woman who is isolated yet independent--appears again and again, no matter how much she or her location changes. We see the profile of the young woman from Waiting in Portrait 1, Shenzhen and three-quarters of her face in Portrait 2, Shenzhen, both 2014. We see her again in two other works from 2014: seated alone at a dining table in Shenzhen 2, the chair opposite her empty; and in the same seated pose, as poised as ever, in Shenzhen 3. In Nairobi 1, Nairobi 2, and Nairobi 3, all 2014, a different woman of the same well-to-do class poses with modern furniture in what looks like a hotel lobby. Caroline, 2007, finds another elegant young woman seated opposite an empty chair; a coffee table familiar from Nairobi 2 is at her side. …

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