Artist Anouk Kruithof was given permission to take a good look at the collection of vernacular photography assembled by the American collector and photo dealer Brad Feuerhelm. Vernacular photography is photographs of domestic or mundane subjects, sometimes fortuitous snaps, ranging from holiday photos, class photographs, shots of family, friends and pets, often taken by amateurs but often too by ‘real’ photographers and artists. Kruithof selected some five hundred of these analogue images from Feuerhelm’s collection, shut herself away in a holiday cottage, and set to work investigating their meanings and interconnections. She then digitized them and transformed the material into five peculiarly personal works. The process concluded with the collection into a single volume of five separate graphic narratives on four different sorts of paper. Each of these ‘stories’ pursues a different strategy of looking, arranging and bringing together.
Implicitly the book explores concepts like ‘analogue’ and ‘digital’, investigates activities such as collecting, looking, combining, interpreting, editing, assigning meaning, and building up hierarchies and categories. Kruithof’s work does not easily reveal its inner thinking, but for that very reason the panel were all the more admiring of her (and designer Christof Nüssli’s) systematic and inventive approach in this book. At bottom it is the book itself that is the real work of art, though it is legitimate to wonder whether building up computer folders and files and then sorting them into particular constellations and sequences might not equally well have been achieved and published through a website or e-book. Nevertheless, the panel were pleased by this non-digital paper medium, precisely because browsing, comparing, looking and slowing things down conveys a far better understanding of Kruithof’s work.