new-york

Erwin Olaf, Keyhole 3, 2011, C-print, 44 1/2 × 33".

Erwin Olaf

Hasted Kraeutler

Erwin Olaf, Keyhole 3, 2011, C-print, 44 1/2 × 33".

At once staged and manicured, Erwin Olaf’s photographs put us in a suspenseful space. The key to this exhibition—and, more specifically, to nine of the twenty-two works on view—was a video clip in the multimedia installation Waiting, 2014, which shows a young woman, her clothes stylishly simple, her expression demure and revealing her to be lost in self-absorption, sitting at a table in a chic restaurant. The chair opposite her is empty; she’s waiting for someone—presumably a male companion as handsome as she is beautiful—to join her. We, the spectators, face her, but she’s not waiting for us. She thumbs through a menu, no sign of impatience furrowing her features. There’s an air of bated breath; we don’t know the end to this story.

This same scenario—the presentation of a fashionable, seemingly self-possessed, classy young woman who is isolated yet

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