In Dramatic Portraits and Genre Scenes, Erwin Olaf Complicates Conventions
Known primarily for producing lush, large-format color prints of staged scenes that suggest complex narratives, Erwin Olaf explores ideas of gender, sensuality, and history in studio photography and photojournalism. His series “Fashion Victims” (2000) offers commentary on the consumerism of sex and designer labels, while “Separation” (2003) portrays an introverted family in a sterile interior space. More recently, Olaf produced “Berlin”, a series of images shot at historical locations around the German capital, including at its Olympic Stadium, and featuring Aryan children performing authoritarian roles. Of the series, which hints obliquely at Berlin’s troubled past, he has said, “I want the viewer to come up with their own story and create his or her fantasy.” Olaf has also produced film and video installations, and has photographed advertising campaigns for international companies such as Levi’s and Microsoft.
Dutch, b. 1959, Hilversum, Netherlands, based in Amsterdam, Netherlands