Olaf Bruening is a swiss-born photographer, practicing in New York. Being careful not to overstep the thin line of comedic acceptance, Bruening’s art is both humorous and witty. Representations of the simplification of the everyday, covering undertones of helplessness, our worrying lack of trivial anthropology and the often the irrelevant guidance of our lunatic cultural heritage, built upon in hindsight, but, non- pertinent to modernity. His playful, bold and socially revealing intentions are highlighting a sorrowful modernity, in and outside the confinements of art.
Because of the staged nature of the imagery, Bruening’s art is often considered performance or installation, but, this is not intentional. The final outcome of his artistic process is pre-conceived from start to finish, with a focus on the definitive outcome being embodied within a photograph. Bruening notes that you only get one moment for an image, where as performance and installation is an interactive experience. Its not to say that viewing Bruening’s art is not an interactive experience, but the two-dimensionality and singular contemporaneity of the photograph, makes choosing that moment within the production process, a difficult challenge. The perfectionist execution of a directive photographer is needed, mostly to refine the diverse range of photographic variables that may cloud a preconceived concept.
Frustrated by the self-confined art world, Bruening feels that a lack of pioneering spirit is evident. People are quick to refer to their institutionalised art history books, for artistic guidance and inspiration. The pioneer’s have been, development within photography in regards to a persons creative individuality has ground to a halt. Now information and art is so readily-available we automatically look to others for direction, the artistic psyche is on the decline, causing the chances of photographic innovation to follow in its path. There now lies a landscape of maxed out creativity, potbound to its planter, the support of our artistic heritage is necessary to keep art moving.
In the Bruening’s 2011 series ‘Art Freaks’, using naked models and body paint, Bruening decorates his medium with mark-making, props and deformities. The images are separate representations of different well-known artists, hinting at particular aesthetical signatures, accountable to each artist. Referring to the impression of art-historical dependance, each subject is emblematic of a tainted artistic individuality, building upon previous artists pioneering achievements. In a world by photographers do not contribute to progression but are are quick to borrow from the past, no pioneering spirit continues and there is no more pushing of boundaries, we are building up, not out. However, I would love to be proven wrong and i’m sure an impending artistic movement will arrive to put me in my place.
The notion of a pre-conceived concept, by means of original manifestation, process and production tend to be more immaculate, clinical and compositionally tidier than the spontaneous and emotionally-real depictions of photography that is not staged. The preparation time within Bruening’s staged photography allows for a directive voice over consequential intention. An initial idea is imagined then created, the photographic process morphs the subject, in to the pre-conceived concept, a ‘heres one I made earlier’ mentality to the final process. On the other hand, spontaneous photography is a heat of the moment experience and pre-conceptions have little effect on the final outcome, a notion that avoids Bruening’s art. Within his staged photography he does take elements of this concept, within a longer time frame that is his photo shoots.
Saatchi Gallery. (2015) Olaf Bruening. Saatchi Gallery Online [Viewed 9 Apr 2015]
Available at: http://www.saatchigallery.com/artists/olaf_breuning.htm
Shore, R. (2014) Post-Photography: The Artist with a Camera. United Kingdom: Laurence King Publishing, p132-137