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Erik Kessels: Album Beauty, at FOAM Gallery, Amsterdam

Work / Photography

Collector extraordinaire Erik Kessel’s latest unconventional photographic exhibition, Album Beauty

Erik Kessels is renowned for his photographic collections as well as, of course, his part in operating KesselsKramer advertising agency. One of his previous exhibitions at the FOAM Gallery in Amsterdam involved him printing out every photo uploaded onto Flickr in just one day; the resulting avalanche-threatening installation inspired an extraordinary awe from the sheer physical volume that would be impossible to communicate with mere statistics on a screen.

Such is Erik’s unorthodox mode for presentation that his latest offering at the same gallery once again pushes the curated experience of a photographic exhibition. As a show, Album Beauty is an exercise in exaggerated scale and interactive elements as gallery goers are invited to walk about this “visual anthropology” of intimate and ambiguous family photos that Kessel’s has collected.

It is an “ode to the vanishing era of the photo album” as we increasingly view our snapshots in exclusively digital spaces. Viewing them as huge wallpaper-like surfaces, the blemishes and scars of their physicality are also enlarged, hinting at the impermanence of the medium but also the personality of such things. And, as portraits and group shots reach human scale, it’s easy to imagine the viewer as part of the sequence of photos.

The individual images are a motley bunch, each one a fascinating and charming composition that would doubtless tell its own interesting story if viewed alone. But it’s as a collection – like the Flickr installation – that the overwhelming culmination of life, death, family, happiness, pride, youth and beauty that a bigger, unexpected story is being told between them as you mentality and physically traverse the distance between the pages of this huge photo album.

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Erik Kessels: Album Beauty, at FOAM Gallery, Amsterdamv

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Erik Kessels: Album Beauty, at FOAM Gallery, Amsterdam

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Erik Kessels: Album Beauty. Courtesy FOAM Gallery, Amsterdam

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Erik Kessels: Album Beauty. Courtesy FOAM Gallery, Amsterdam

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Erik Kessels: Album Beauty. Courtesy FOAM Gallery, Amsterdam

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Erik Kessels: Album Beauty. Courtesy FOAM Gallery, Amsterdam

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Erik Kessels: Album Beauty. Courtesy FOAM Gallery, Amsterdam

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Erik Kessels: Album Beauty. Courtesy FOAM Gallery, Amsterdam

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Erik Kessels: Album Beauty. Courtesy FOAM Gallery, Amsterdam

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Erik Kessels: Album Beauty. Courtesy FOAM Gallery, Amsterdam (plan designs by Roland Buschmann)

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Erik Kessels: Album Beauty. Courtesy FOAM Gallery, Amsterdam (plan designs by Roland Buschmann)

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Erik Kessels: Album Beauty. Courtesy FOAM Gallery, Amsterdam (plan designs by Roland Buschmann)

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Erik Kessels: Album Beauty, at FOAM Gallery, Amsterdam

Album Beauty will be on show until October 14.