Humanity and Time Converge with Erwin Olaf and Ruinart
Deep in the caves of Reims, France, bottles of Ruinart champagne sit and wait for time to have its effect. We wait impatiently but are reminded season after season that the wait is worth it. Sugar turns to alcohol and carbon dioxide, creating an effervescent magic born to the dark. Each bottle will transforms into a delight as our lives pass by on the surface. It’s been happening below us for almost three hundred years, but every year since 1896 Ruinart invites an artist to create a piece of work inspired by the company. This year, Erwin Olaf was taken by the magic that lives inside those cellars. “Not only has nature left its traces, but also human beings,” says Erwin, describing what it was about the caves that arrested him so. Erwin reached back into his own history and filled his Hasselblad camera with black and white film, a habit from the 1980s. He toured the cellars and photographed what he found.
In many ways the result of this project, a large compendium filled with pages of Erwin’s discoveries, represents a departure from his traditional work. “I play with reality, creating lies” Erwin says, describing his typical process. But these images are naked representations of what lies below the surface, untouched and glowing. This is where the press of nature and the touch of humanity come together in a collaboration, creating something that neither can do on their own. It’s a reminder that time makes fools of us all.