The Collector, The Photographer, His Wife, His Lover: Erik Kessel’s Big Find
Erik Kessel’s found photography series, “in almost every picture,” always delivers an afternoon’s worth of distraction. Kessel achieves his careful compilations by combing through flea market stands, thrift stores, and found photo albums, plus a healthy dose of internet searches. Each installment offers fascinating, often grotesque, insight into private lives and a thinly veiled commentary on voyeurism and perceived anonymity (when you throw out those awful vacation snapshots of you, burned beet red and squinting, do you worry that someone might find them?). But it’s his latest installment that offers a found art goldmine.
The photographs in question are by Fred Clark, an amateur photographer who enjoys taking shots of his wife. There’s nothing too surprising there–on the most basic level we all love taking photos of our family; on a deviant level, erotic snapshots of wives aren’t all that surprising either. But Clark’s work veers from the “normal” toward, by any standard, the defiantly strange. Since 1984, Clark has documented his wife, fully clothed, submerged in fountains, pools, and other bodies of water. Clark calls the series “wet fun adventures,” allowing that they are both sensuous and erotic centered on the pleasure he derives from seeing his wife dressed in expensive clothes, drenched. He continues to photograph the series today.
With these pictures, Kessel’s project has achieved meta-voyeuristic status, a success that induces a certain level of vertigo but also resounds with anyone who’s ever chucked a photo album into the “Goodwill” pile.
See a chronological slideshow of Clark’s photographs at the Huffington Post.