Swiss-born artist Olaf Breuning has created a body of work ranging across photography, video, sculpture, drawing, and installation. In the spirit of 20th century art movement Dada, Breuning’s practice comments on the viral nature of popular culture in contemporary media. His humour captures our attention with images that are familiar, but given an amusing new interpretation.

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Olaf Breuning, Switzerland b.1970 / Easter bunnies (detail) 2004 / Type C photograph on paper / 122 x 155cm / Purchased 2010 with a special allocation from the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Olaf Breuning

The irreverent appropriation performed by Olaf Breuning in his photograph Easter bunnies 2004 creates a new humorous meaning through juxtaposition. The significance of the mysterious Easter Island monoliths are transformed into grinning bunnies through cardboard cut-out rabbit ears and red comical grins, clipped onto carefully placed stands of metal and cord. His manipulation of the camera’s depth of field and focus creates an almost seamless spatial transition between the playfulness of his props and the solemnity of the stone monoliths.

Marcel Duchamp’s L.H.O.O.Q. 1919, 19.7 x 12.4cm, Private Collection, Paris (left) and originally published in 391, n. 12, March 1920 (right)

Easter bunnies references L.H.O.O.Q. 1919, where Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) famously doodled a moustache and goatee in pencil on a postcard of Leonardo da Vinci’s 16th-century painting Mona Lisa, attaching a new title and thus renewing its celebrity status in what Duchamp referred to as a readymade. The readymade involved taking utilitarian objects not generally considered to be art and transforming them.

Breuning is similarly allowing us to see the Easter Island monoliths in a new light despite their over-familiarity.

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Feature image detail: Olaf Breuning Easter bunnies 2004

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