Erik Kessels: Album Beauty
Location: Espace Van Gogh
Album Beauty by Erik Kessels focuses on the beauty in flaws. Kessels spent years collecting old photo albums of families. Photo albums are an edited version of how the family chooses to present itself, and are also a dying work of art due to technology and new ways of storing photos. Kessels searches for the flaws in photographs and uses these distortions to tell stories and make the people in the images become even more human.
The exhibit was beautifully arranged in a messy fashion. In walking through the halls, it felt as though you were walking through pages of a messy photo album, crammed with as many photos as possible, some spilling out of the pages, and with no apparent organization. There are massive portraits of people stacked in an unorganized fashion along the walls, and while most of them are serious portraits of strangers, one can smile and feel as though they personally know who it is they are looking at. These pictures aren’t just random people, they are our friends and family, doing things that we have always known such as celebrating birthdays and lying on the beach. Some portraits are awkward, some are seemingly boring, some are funny, but all evoke a sense of familiarity.
Some of the best images are the ones that are flawed. My favorite from this exhibit was a portrait of a young girl on the day of her first communion. She looks absolutely flawless in her white veil and lovely, calm expression. However, the photograph is completely wrinkled right on the center of her face. Somehow, this destruction of the photo brings and even more human light. The girl is celebrating a holy religious ceremony and dressed fully in white- she is the epitome of purity, but the cracks and wrinkles surrounding her face bring her back down to earth to humanity. In photos like these, Kessels shows us that mistakes can make a regular photo a perfect treasure.