New-York-based Swiss artist Olaf Breuning is our international artist-in-residence this year. He 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 heavy metal and counter-culture, historical romance 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, embarrassment and intrigue.
Our show features Breuning's video Home, a 32-minute double-screen mini-epic filmed in a range of exotic settings. On one screen Home's deranged globetrotting narrator bounces off the walls of a swanky hotel room while introducing a series of anecdotes which are enacted on the other screen. Each episode spirals into weirdness. In one, gang members tyrannise a young Amish man, stripping him, pulling an E.T. mask over his head, and chasing him across a field. Allowing us no time to morally digest the implications of this, the narrator launches into more crazed yarns, taking on the personas of a drug dealer, a cowboy, and a vagrant. Breuning dissolves the borders between daily life and the dream worlds of fashion, film, and TV. The show also includes the installation Ghosts (a collaboration with fashion designer Bernhard Wilhelm), a selection of photographs, and Miss Loot, a primitivist totem cobbled together from purchases from Loot, the ethnic-homewares chainstore. A joint project with Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney, supported by Prohelvetia/Arts Council of Switzerland.