Erik Kessels


Erik Kessels


Occurence, espace d’art et d’essai contemporains
September 10 to November 7, 2015

As a graphic designer, advertising manager, editor, collector, exhibition curator, and artist, Erik Kessels exemplifies the versatile creator of the digital age who engages in the full range of creative activities. In his projects, Kessels pays close attention to the most popular or trivial forms of photography, such as family albums, pornography ads, and commercial documentation, which would normally be rejected by canon-defining museums and institutions. Taking advantage of the extraordinary abundance and availability of images today, Kessels sifts and recycles cast-off materials, like a waste-picker in search of overlooked treasures. The photographs thus recovered, displaced from their original function in a Duchampian gesture, reveal, through their new mise en valeur, an unexpected aesthetic and programmatic background that points toward an ecology of the image.

The installation All Yours (2015), specially conceived for Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal, is based on Kessels’s books and collections, such as in almost every picture, Useful Photography, Album Beauty, Mother Nature, Models, ME TV, Photo Cubes, Unfinished Father, and Bombay Beauties, and on more recently collected, previously unpublished materials. The first two of the published works, both commenced in 2001, are the most ambitious. In almost every picture (2001–15) is a long-running photography book series that focuses on storytelling with vernacular photography. Useful Photography (started in 2001) is a monographic magazine focusing on overlooked and underwhelming images taken for practical purposes. The photographs in this magazine are collected and edited by Hans Aarsman, Hans van der Meer, Julian Germain, and Erik Kessels himself.


Erik Kessels was born in 1966; he lives and works in Amsterdam. He has presented numerous exhibitions at Fotografia Europea in Reggio Emilia (2015), Centquatre-Paris (2014), Les Rencontres d’Arles (2014), the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (2013), Pier 24 Photography in San Francisco (2014–15) and the Images – Festival des Arts Visuels in Vevey (2014). As an artist and photography curator, Kessels has published several books of his “collected” images: Missing Links (1999), The Instant Men (2000), In Almost Every Picture (2001–15), and Wonder (2006). Since 2007, he has curated exhibitions, including The European Championship of Graphic Design, Graphic Detour, Loving Your Pictures, Use me Abuse me, 24 Hours of Photos, and Album Beauty. In 2010, he received the Amsterdam Prize of the Arts, and in 2012 he was elected the most influential creative in the Netherlands. Since 1996, he has been creative director of the KesselsKramer communications agency in Amsterdam.

This project has been assisted by the Mondriaan Fonds.