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Dutch photographer Erwin Olaf is on the threshold of an important year: his most recent photographic series, Hope, Grief and Rain appear to have given him an international breakthrough and, for the first time, major international museums are showing an interest.
His work has been criticised since the 1980s as being produced merely for its shock value, thus eliminating it as art. But now that important art dealers in the U.S. and Japan are eager to invest in Olaf’s recent work, it seems as if his years of hard work will finally lead to serious recognition. Yet this is occurring, of all times, in a period of his life in which Erwin Olaf is contending with emphysema, a debilitating disease that obliges him to deal cautiously with his energy reserves. Whether his body can keep up with his work pace is uncertain.
In this film director Michiel van Erp provides a portrait of international art dealing as seen through the eyes of – according to Dutch art magazine Kunstbeeld - ‘the most highly visible Dutch artist working abroad.’ How can you get your work hung in the right museum? By whom do you let yourself be influenced in your choice of subject matter? And how does it affect your work to know that you only have a very limited time in which to create it?