‘A very exciting book with plenty of body’ – and that’s not just about the sultry and explicit content, the panel assured each other in chorus. For Taking off. Henry my Neighbor artist Mariken Wessels went to work on the private archive of ‘Henry’ in the United States and found herself immersed in areas such as shame and guilt. The weird and wonderful story behind Taking off. Henry my Neighbor has to do with a doomed marriage, sexually obsessive behaviour and creative madness.
An extraordinary collection of photos and cut-out collages culminated in a ‘vertigo of amateur nude art’. For a number of years Henry photographed his wife Martha in all sorts of nude poses until in a fit of rage she threw the collection out of the window. Is Henry a maniac? A psychopath? Wessels breathes highly intense life into the monomania of his photos, sometimes even with a rosy glow. On the basis of the same material we find ourselves entering very diverse spheres, sometimes set apart by a number of blank pages or a fold-out photo. The inventive collages and the methods used to manipulate the images guarantee a visual experience without equal; at times it’s as if we’re standing watching from behind the curtains. Time and again Wessels deliberately sends us off in the wrong direction, pushing us into the uncomfortable role of voyeur in the front row, in these shadowy regions between the public domain and the private.
Mariken Wessels has found the key to the order and gives shape to an anonymous artistic process. This culminates in a powerful book in which Henry’s sculptures – now in colour – strike an extra strong final chord. Already under its belt is an honourable mention at Best Book Design from all over the World in Leipzig.
Honorary appreciation Best Book Design from all over the World, Leipzig 2016