Review: Olivia Erlanger for BMW Open Work by Frieze

Dr. Thomas Girst (Director of BMW Group Kulturengagement), Attilia Fattori Franchini (Curator BMW Open Work by Frieze), Olivia Erlanger (Artist), Hedwig Solis Weinstein (Head of BMW Brand Cooperations, Arts & Design) & Graeme Grieve (Chief Executive Officer, BMW Group UK and Ireland). | ©BMW / Photo: Rob Low

The new BMW Open Work by Frieze platform celebrated its London premiere. It kicked off with an installation created by Olivia Erlange

The BMW Open Work by Frieze is celebrating its world premiere this year. The new multimedia platform is curated by Italian independent curator and writer Attilia Fattori Franchini ( and it all kicked off with New York-based artist Olivia Erlanger (b. 1990) and Body Electric, a work that crosses the boundaries of existing modes of seeing.

Inspired by the 1962 essay Opera aperata (English translation: The Open Work) by writer Umberto Eco, the BMW Open Work by Frieze presents visionary works by contemporary artists. According to Eco, an artwork is created through the participation of the viewer or entirely on accident. Eco also refers to Franz Kafka and James Joyce as well as composers Karlheinz Stockhausen and Pierre Boulez. The approach to openness and to the open-ended, to the fragment, plays a central role.

Erlanger’s installation was presented for the first time during the London Frieze Art Fair. It investigates the effect of technology on humans and nature. A separated room is drenched in lilac-colored light, filled with a soft mist, and has benches facing each other placed in the middle. Here the viewer takes a seat and puts headphones on. (Buzzword alert: immersive art at its best. At the same time, a group exhibition opened at 180 The Strand for the 50th anniversary of the Lisson Gallery on exactly on this topic.) What you hear depends on the movement on top of the furniture, the volume varying from loud to quiet: the snippets of conversation, how those integrated perceive their environment.

The back wall of the space is made of corrugated sheet metal and offers a welcome bridge to the themes that Erlanger has engaged with up until now: She published Hate Suburbia alongside Luis Ortega Govela, a publication that deals with suburban garages and their related associations. (Hello American Beauty, hello place where Apple was founded.) The introduction was written by Octave Perrot who, like Ortega Govela, is a member of the åyr collective ( and has recently generated interest on the art and architecture scene.

But in London, it goes even further: Erlanger’s work finds its digital continuation on the fair’s BMW VIP shuttle service. Monitors are attached to the car seats and play short films on a loop. Body Electric is reminiscent of classic Millennial video art that relies on the collaging of film snippets and have already been shown, like in artist Rachel Rose’s solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 2015. The promise of really thinking in 360 degrees in the artistic and technical implementation is manifested in the fact that the clips can be seen on this link. New technologies are seamlessly integrated into art. Young thinkers are showing that they are in the position to create works beyond ostensible boundaries.

“As humans begin a mutative synthesis with our machines, Body Electric considers the changing relationship that we have to the environment, as our embodied experience of the ‘natural’ becomes increasingly mediated and distorted by objects of our own design,” says Olivia Erlanger. Those unable to enjoy this project on site can follow the artist’s footsteps via Instagram (@oliviaerlanger).

More information about the BMW Open Work by Frieze project can be found here as well as on Instagram (@bmwgroupculture).

Find more about the artist Olivia Erlanger here or on her Instagram account

The publication Hate Suburbia can be found here and a reading of the publication can be found here.

Read the exciting Born Goth by Erlanger and Ortega Govela in Harvard Design Magazine.


Translation: Melissa Frost

Julia co-founded one of the first fashion blogs in Germany in 2007 and became a freelance consultant for digital strategies after publishing her first book in 2010. After an eventful four years with Condé Nast working mainly in the digital department of Vogue Germany, she decided to launch her own online magazine with her dream partner, Veronika Heilbrunner. She is based in Berlin and loves to read books.

Updates about her next professional steps can be found at