olaf breuning - home
5 Sep 2004 - 18 Jul 2011

September 5-9: Olaf Breuning - HOME
SMCS on 11, September 5-9, daily from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Olaf Breuning - HOME. Running time 32 minutes, continuous showing. Free admission.

The preoccupation of artists with popular culture and vice versa is centuries old. But there are only a few who have embarked on the path of this problematic interaction with such dedication as the Swiss/American photographer and video artist Olaf Breuning (b. 1970). His most recent and most ambitious video installation to date, HOME, will be shown in SMCS on 11, from September 5 through 9.

HOME is not a work that you have seen in a minute. The installation is comprised of two films that are shown next to one another synchronously. On the one film screen you see the main figure in the film, who walks rather shakily through an enormous villa. As he does so he repeatedly encounters kitschy interior objects which remind him of bizarre dreams that he has had.

These ‘dreams’ are visualised on the other screen: a varied sequence of absurd stories and scenes, unmistakably inspired by commercial television. For instance, in the space of a half hour we see the most fantastic fragments that are derived from video clips and programmes like Temptation Island and JackAss, and elaborated by Breuning into yet more hilarious film shorts, were that possible.

At the same time the installation has a serious undertone. For instance, we see how the main character feels distinctly uneasy in the Grand Canyon or in the mountains of Peru, where he turns the distinction between tourist and tourist object entirely on its head, and how he wanders through the on one hand monstrously kitschy but on the other hand brilliant hotel The Venetian in Las Vegas to contemplate its being. But the swinging music clips and nostalgic music that are interwoven through the whole film also play a part in the total impression made by this installation.

The distinction between popular and ‘high’ culture is entirely blurred in HOME. But the installation goes further than that: it even undercuts the idea of a difference between ‘authentic’ and mediaised experience. It presents the experience of the dreams as more real and intense than the selection of ‘real’ experiences that pass in review on the other screen.

Breuning’s most important considerations with HOME are therefore ‘to make it clear that that we presently live with various layers of perception, and how confusing someone’s perception can become. Watching HOME, the viewer finds himself in an unbalanced world where reality and fiction melt into one another.’

Anyone who, at the end, thinks this is all one great, ironic compilation of existing material, would be wrong. Even the all-too-convincing pop music and accompanying video clips were composed and directed by Breuning himself. He filmed on no less than eight locations in Europe, North and South America, and South Africa to realise this impressive installation.

SMCS on 11
SMCS on 11 is a programme of lectures, discussions, film and video presentations by Stedelijk Museum CS. The ‘11’ refers to the 11th storey of the Post CS building, where most of the activities take place. The regular evening is Thursday. The Museum itself is open to 9:00 p.m. that day.

In the period between August 30 and September 30, many of the galleries in Stedelijk Museum CS are being prepared for new exhibitions. That is part of the reason for using the 11th storey for HOME for several days during this period. The installation fits in with the themes of the exhibition 20/20 Vision, which can still be seen in the Museum through October 3.