In July 2016, Olya Oleinic (Moldova, 1991) embarked on a journey through China and its surrounding areas: from Beijing, Shanghai and Taipei to Hong Kong. Fascinated by consumer culture and the aesthetics of advertising, she went to research the country that produces most of the products we use in our daily lives. At the same time, Chinese culture blends Buddhism, communism and consumerism in a way that seems quite incomprehensible to the average European. With her exhibition Made of China, Olya Oleinic relives her confusing encounter with China’s consumer culture. A typical Chinese shop arises in Foam 3h, in which her artworks merge with consumerist objects and obscure items on the shelves like random merchandise.
Oleinic captured everything that struck her while scouring the cities’ streets. After her return to Amsterdam (NL), where she currently lives and works, she started to recreate her impressions and sentiments in her studio. In her fantastically constructed creations Oleinic applied the slick aesthetics of advertising to her puzzling subjects. We are invited into another reality, in which the artist shares her experiences with us, trying to make sense of what she encountered. What becomes clear is that ‘consumer culture’ does not only entail the mass of famous Western labels with their shiny shops and appealing advertisements. The term also applies to the jungle of counterfeit brands such as Nkie, Aike and Hike, Heimekem, Calvim Klain or Odidoss, that offer a cheap alternative to this luxurious lifestyle that many in China still cannot afford.
Besides the constructed photographs of her impressions, the exhibition also features a new book in which Oleinic combines the daily observations captured during her trip to China in April and July this year with small notes and murmurs. The publication is included in the exhibition as an artistic key work as well as becoming just another commodity in the shop.
The globalizing consumer culture and its advertising aesthetics form a recurring theme throughout Olya Oleinic’s artistic practice. In 2014 she graduated from the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague (The Netherlands), with the project Universal Guide to Everything, with which she won the academy’s Photography Department Award and the Steenbergen Stipendium 2014. In this work Oleinic assembled and illustrated the most popular “HOW-TO” searches on the Internet. Since her graduation, the majority of the work she made so far has been commissioned, in which she herself applies advertising aesthetics in her photography to create appealing visual messages. She created worked for Glamcult, Tank Magazine, Metal Magazine and MAISON the FAUX, among others.
Foam 3h is a project space where young artists and photographers are invited by Foam’s curators to present their first solo museum exhibition. They are challenged to experiment, surprise and push the limits of photography.
This exhibition has been made possible by Van Bijlevelt Stichting, the Gieskes-Strijbis Fund, Kleurgamma, the Van Bijleveltstichting, VSBfonds and donations via Voordekunst.