Olaf Breuning

Olaf Breuning


2 October - 3 November 2001

A joint project with Elam School of Fine Arts Residency Programme, with support from Jenny Gibbs and Pro Helvetia / Arts Council of Switzerland

Swiss artist Olaf Breuning is a master of the constructed scenario. In his videos, photos, and installations, he dishes up a fantasy world of glam-trash quotations, an archive of alternative realities. Equally enamoured with the heavy metal and the new age, historical costume drama and serial-killer splatter, the courtly and the bogan, he constructs bizarre intersections of reality and simulation in which pop culture's interlocking cliches are amplified and exploded. His eclectic work provokes contrasting feelings of discomfort and fascination, repulsion and seduction, embarrasment and intrigue.

Breuning was in Auckland in August on a residency at Elam School of Fine Arts and worked with students to create a new body of work. Shot on Auckland's western beaches, his video Group documents the metamorphosis of beardy, soggy surf-vikings into Lord of the Flies Javamen. Washed up on Piha beach, the vikings encounter fire in a prehistoric epiphany. They paint each other by fire light, change costumes, brawl in a camper-van. They sit at the fold-down table in their masks like a bunch of mutant tourists. In describing his epic, Breuning talks of Dungeons-and-Dragons role-playing games, about the double lives of reenactors who joust in Sunday armour bought off the internet. Breuning made photos too, like production stills: four body-painted boys languish in the dappled sunlight of junglish weedy clearings as though caught by National Geographic.