Erwin Olaf's latest exhibition imagines the ultimate April Fool's prank
Haven’t you thought at some point, that you wish all of this was just an April Fool’s prank? That the coronavirus wasn’t real and that the reality we were living wasn’t actually real? Well, you’re not alone in that thought.
Photographer Erwin Olaf, well known for his witty yet melancholic work, started a new series this year titled “April Fool 2020” portraying his — and everyone else’s — wish that Covid-19 was just an April Fool’s prank. K.O.N.G Gallery, located in central Seoul, has invited Olaf as the second artist to take part in a series of its Covid-19 exhibitions that started in May with Jen Pak’s solo exhibition.
“The visual narrative of ‘April Fool 2020’ gives shape to the emotions and images that paralyzed me after we all suddenly woke up in the surreal nightmare of this pandemic,” Olaf said. “Fear and powerlessness have dominated me for a few weeks now; I feel like an insignificant extra in some morbid film, the conclusion of which is entirely unknown. The plane in which we are all sitting has lost its engines — the benevolent silence is only a harbinger for what is still to come.”
In his new series, Olaf features himself as the only subject within the photograph with his face painted in white, to symbolize “the joker where the house of cards is collapsing” according to the artist. He stands on a deserted street of Amsterdam, inside a mart with empty shelves, alone in his house and looking forlornly out a window, all to express his sense of loss and vanity of everyday things.
The works follow a chronological order. He starts his day at 9:15 a.m. and wanders around until 11:30 a.m. Ten photographs and a 20-minute video are on display.
Olaf began his work as a journalist and turned to photography as a different means to capture reality.
He won the Young European Photographer of the Year award in 1988 with his “Chessmen” series and has been named as one of the most respected photographers of his time. Last year, he was awarded a Knight in the Order of the Dutch Lion by the Dutch government. His works, including the latest series, are records of his inner feelings but also portraits of his fellow humans and the world.
“The supermarket shelves, emptied by hoarders, made me realize that for decades I have assumed that everything would always be there, that our dancing on the volcano’s edge would never end,” he said. “Nothing could be further from the truth, and here I stand, my mouth full of teeth.”
Viewers can see the exhibition in 3-D via the gallery’s website. The pieces are also available for purchase.
BY YOON SO-YEON [firstname.lastname@example.org]