Erik Kessels on Hans Eijkelboom

From the PhotoBook Review Issue 005, Erik Kessels celebrates an early work by Hans Eijeklboom.

In anticipation of the PhotoBook Review 006 coming out in late April, we are posting our final dispatch from the PhotoBook Review Issue 005. Under the column “Out of Print SOS!”, Erik Kessels celebrates an early work by Hans Eijeklboom.

One of the most remarkable people I have come to know during the last few years is the Dutch artist and photographer Hans Eijkelboom. People might know his work from the 2007 Aperture book Paris–New York–Shanghai, which contains numerous typologies of people that Eijkelboom photographed in these cities. But there’s much more to Eijkelboom’s work. Since the 1970s he has used photography as a vehicle for his conceptual art. One of my favorite series involves photographs Eijkelboom took in different people’s houses. He rang doorbells in the afternoon, while husbands and fathers were likely absent, still at work. Together with the wife and the children that answered the door, Eijkelboom photographed himself with them, as if he was the head of the household. He did this with several families, and there is no occasion in which he looks out of place. Eijkelboom is a master at exploring and questioning identity.

A similar project from this period is called In de Krant, which translates to Being in the Newspaper. For ten consecutive days Eijkelboom contrived a way to get a picture of himself in the same newspaper. The artist tracked a local press photographer and snuck into the frame whenever he would photograph. We see images of demonstrations, accidents, shop openings, and other locally “interesting” events. Eijkelboom succeeded at his self-appointed task; for this period, you could always find the artist in the background of some newspaper image. It was a performance that was recorded, daily and accidentally, by someone who did not know what was going on.

The newspaper pages with these photographs where brought together in a publication in 1978. Perhaps a few hundred copies were made. A project with such a strong concept and with such a great sense of humor needs to be released again to be seen by a new generation of artists and photographers. It shows that a great idea for a work will always transcend its moment.

Erik Kessels is a cofounder and creative director of the communications agency KesselsKramer. He also works as an artist, curator, and publisher in the fields of vernacular and contemporary photography.