olaf breuning, blind spot
olaf breuning, blind spot
olaf breuning, blind spot

olaf breuning


blind spot

In June 2003 an extensive poster campaign entitled 'Blind Spot', involving a total of 800 posters, was launched in Lower Austria. In contrast to most art projects involving posters, in which they are one-offs or only put up in very small numbers, it would be accurate here to talk of art actually latching onto this mass medium. Communication specialists have calculated that the average reception period for an advertising poster today amounts to not even two seconds. In contrast to a perceptual field conceived in this way, the question for the artists is one of whether to correspond and subject themselves to this apparent or actual compulsion for what is catchy. Or, on the contrary, does precisely this honing of the medium offer special scope for art and – in comparison with the museum – a field of quite new referential possibilities? The big advantage of art posters is that they are almost always without a sender. They don’t have to sell a product. Yet above all else it is the communicative strategies of the art poster itself which, even if it adopts the forms usual in graphic design, create a distance between it and the simple orientation towards its environment. Frequently used are also 'minimalist' strategies of information denial, which open up a wide range of interpretative possibilities. The artists attempt to counteract the simple readability of the advertising language by creating aesthetic products which offer multi-layered possibilities of meaning.

In Breuning's case, the use of the clichés of popular culture constitutes his artistic agenda. As in the case of many other works by the Swiss artist, his Double assembles the signs and codes of the everyday world into a strange collage. Yet at first glance the poster presents an apparently commonplace scene which at most seems strangely frozen: two women and two men all in white tennis kit and with rackets in their hands are sitting at and on a picnic table. If it were not for the oddly yellow masks, one might at first have thought that this image in the midst of all the other advertisements was promoting sports accessories. Only upon closer examination do the details show a more grotesque design: all four are wearing wigs, the men black ones, the women blonde ones with thick braids, the two women have large inflated balloon breasts bulging artificially from their polo shirts and each of the people has a bandage on his or her right leg etc. Breuning combines stereotypes from our collective repertoire of images – from the experiential worlds of TV, cinema, fashion, art and also from advertising – yet at the same time he exaggerates them or subtly undermines them. That is why the excitement of the proximity to the advertising medium which has an even greater effect in this case. Placing it in a media context, which is committed to such clichés more than anything else, sharpens the image's ironic distance to an even greater extent. Here, more than might have been the case if it had been shown in a gallery, its quality as a surreal commentary on the uniformity of the present-day leisure industry became virulent, while the artificiality of the scene – the silly masks, the bizarre play of clone-like sameness and indistinguishability – mercilessly brought out the absurdity of the sporty dress code. To greater effect than would have been the case in an art exhibition, the act of satirically questioning beautiful appearances and the suggestive power of the world of consumerism is placed in the foreground, an aspect which always plays a role in Breuning’s work.
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