The Swiss duo Taiyo Onorato & Nico Krebs (1979) are viewed by many as one of the most promising teams in contemporary photography. Since 2003 the pair have worked together on a variety of projects on the cutting edge of photography, sculpture and installation art. Their work provides intelligent and often ironic commentary on the history of photography, the nature of photos, how cameras operate and the role of the photographer. Few subjects remain untouched in their complex yet highly accessible work where reality collides with fiction and humour converges with seriousness. This summer Foam
will be the first museum in the Netherlands to organise an exhibition of work by Onorato & Krebs, consisting of a unique presentation of new work and objects from their previous projects.
Tayio Onorato and Nico Krebs became acquainted during their studies at the Zurich University of the Arts. Typical of their oeuvre is the interplay with the two-dimensional character of photography. They carefully construct their photos as sculptors do, moulding them until the final result is perfect - often paired with a subtle feeling for humour. This playful approach was developed during their studies, in reaction to the influential but strict and rigid documentary style of the Dusseldorf School of Photography.
The Light of Other Days exhibition comprises both spatial and two-dimensional work. The principal ingredients are dozens of photos created by placing a sheet of a photosensitive paper directly in front of a camera. The light then falls on the paper instead of a negative and an instant image is created. Manipulation would seem to be impossible - the image gives an accurate reproduction of the subject. But fact and fiction are seldom unambiguous with Onorato & Krebs. With references to camera obscuras and photograms, they create their own complete universe in which object and representation clash with each other.
Not only do Onorato & Krebs experiment with photographic processes but with the camera itself. Anything could ultimately function as a camera, couldn't it? The title As Long as It Photographs It Must Be a Camera is thereby thought-provoking. In this project they worked with cameras they made themselves. These 'Do it yourself' cameras are presented in the exhibition space as sculptures in their own right. A turtle shell is thus transformed into a camera (slow-photography?), as well as a stack of photo history books - it is as if we are looking through the eyes of our predecessors.
Many of Onorato & Krebs' projects reflect their vast knowledge of photography and photo history. Their big breakthrough followed the publication of the book The Great Unreal (2009) in which they mixed the cliché of the great American landscape with the way in which countless photographers have depicted it. Onorato & Krebs also took the nearly obligatory 'American road trip', but ended with a commentary on fact and fiction in photography that was both intelligent and absurdist.
Since completing university, Onorato & Krebs have had exhibitions in places including the Kunsthalle Mainz, Germany, in 2011; Museum im Bellpark in Kriens, Switzerland, in 2010; Kunsthaus Aargau in Aurau, Switzerland in 2009; and PS1 MoMA in New York in 2006. They have also participated in group shows such as PhotoIreland Dublin and the Bundeskunsthalle in Bonn in 2011, Fotohof Salzburg, the Kunsthalle Munchen in Munich and the Kunstraum Düsseldorf in 2010, and Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland, in 2009. Their work is included in various collections in Switzerland, including Fotomuseum Winterthur. A portfolio by the duo will be published In Foam Magazine #31 Ref. Onorato & Krebs live and work in Zurich and Berlin.
Light of Other Days by Onorato & Krebs can be seen from 8 June - 22 August 2012 at Foam. Open daily 10 am - 6 pm, Thurs/Fri 10 am - 9 pm. Tickets: 8,50.