Camelops Femina: Olaf Breuning | Solo Exhibition

18 March - 30 April 2013

After a globe-spanning career which started in the late 90’s with over 250 exhibitions - including solo shows in museums such as Institute of Modern Art (Brisbane/Australia), Palais de Tokyo (Paris/France), Kunstmuseum Luzern (Luzern/Switzerland), Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst (Zürich/Switzerland), and group exhibitions in other museums such as Kunsthalle Wien (Vienna/Austria), The Saatchi Gallery (London/UK), MOCAK (Krakow/Poland), MOCA Miami (Miami/USA), Kunsthalle Nürnberg (Nürnberg/Germany), Centre Pompidou (Paris/ France), SMAK (Gent/Belgium), Moma PS1(New York/USA) - the Swiss born/New York based artist will open his solo exhibition with new works  at Carbon 12 from March 18th till April 30th, 2013. 


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 new series “Camelops Femina”, so unique yet so typically “Breuning”, was developed especially for the exhibition. This time, the artist goes the opposite way many 19th century iconographers took: he digs back 10,000 years in history to excavate an extinct species of Camel that wandered across North America, in order to make us look at pre-conceived ideas and iconography from a different perspective. In this series of photographs the humanized characters are also feminized by Breuning. Imagine the Cremaster doing cosplay, a game of make-believe: an almost mythical creature long vanished from earth as the subject of something as mundane as a fashion-esque photoshoot? As for Breuning, the answers the enchanted viewer is seeking, lie in the creature’s nonchalant and seductive gaze, without any judgment or disrespect, simply from a uniquely different visual approach.