Erwin Olaf Waiting with Music

Photographer Erwin Olaf is marking the opening of his New York exhibition with a split screen video installation, a 50-minute film titled Waiting. The film, shot in a single take, shows a girl, waiting in a restaurant. Besides briefly touching her glass, opening the menu, she just sits and waits. Atypical for the real world, she is not constantly checking her phone or sending text messages. The film is a statement addressing the impatience and restlessness prevalent in today’s society.

Waiting Installation by Erwin Olaf

Olaf, who is known to address social issues, taboos, and conservative conventions in a highly stylised and cunning mode of image making, emphasises with Waiting, the impact of our busy lives and the kinds of emotions ‘just waiting’ can trigger. The installation is part of “Waiting: Selections from Erwin Olaf: Volume I & II”, on display at the Hasted Kraeutler in New York from January 8 and running through February 28, 2015.

The following video is a 5-minute excerpt from the installation.

The Music

Sound designer and composer Sebastiaan Roestenburg, one of the founders of creative production company The Ambassadors, was tasked to compose 50 minutes of original music to work alongside Olaf’s film installation. The carefully composed piano piece takes the viewer through the sentiments of hopefulness, loneliness and depression, experienced while waiting. Depending on when one enters the installation, each visit represents a completely new experience.

As there is barely any visual action in the film, the music plays an important role in transporting the audience into the emotion of the character and conveying the message. Sebastiaan Roestenburg comments: “This was a very unusual project, primarily because of its length. As a commercial composer, I write a great deal of music but usually for a period of a few seconds to one or two minutes. Composing 50 minutes of music to accompany the personal work of a photographer is very challenging. It is a very subtle process in which every tone is considered impactful.”

Erwin Olaf and Sebastiaan Roestenburg have a long history of collaborating on different film projects. Erwin Olaf comments: “Sebastiaan Roestenburg adds the sound that I have in mind to my imagery. I never really know how to explain what I am looking for until I hear his music. Substantively and musically he surprises me every time. His special talent enriches my visual world.”

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