The portrait is your mirror. It’s you. This is what German photographer August Sander used to say, meaning that a portrait is an image where author, model and spectator become one. Anouk Kruithof annuls that relationship, moving away from the subjects’ identities and hiding their faces to discontinue this tradition of portrait photography. Kruithof aim is the creation of anonymous portraits, in which subjects remains private. Since a subject’s face is not revealed, it’s harder to discern someone’s gender, nationality, age let alone someone’s facial expressions or emotions.
While early 20th century portrait photography demonstrated a “positivist” attempt to understanding humankind by classifying human archetypes, Kruithof cancels the identity of models by making them similar to one another, and without subdividing them into temporal or spatial categories. The only valid criterion Kruithof observes is a chromatic one.
AHEAD consists of a collection of 1080 anti-portraits, looking like individual dots or pixels that make up an image. Each photograph was taken with an iPhone and the subjects chose a background color to their own liking when taking a selfie.
On the website of AHEAD a specially programmed algorithm arranges the images on a chromatic scale. Kruithof arranges these photos in a grid, just like photos uploaded to social networks appear on our mobile devices.
AHEAD seems playful, but is critical of a society obsessed by control. No facial recognition system is able to recognise and identify subjects in these portraits.
AHEAD can be seen as a deliberate admission of failure. Anouk Kruithof hints at the fact that humankind will always remain unclassifiable and that there is no such encyclopedia that can bring order into the chaos of humanity.
AHEAD (2014-ONGOING) is an ongoing project consisting of site-specific installations related to the environment in which the project is showed:
The 1st version was a window installation shown at FOUR A.M. New York
The 2nd version is this website: www.ahead.website
The 3rd version will be an exhibition at Gibellina PhotoRoad – International Open Air Photography Festival
The 4th version will be an exhibition at Centro de la Imagen in Mexico City
Her work has been exhibited in international institutions, such as Het Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, MBAL Switzerland, He Xiangning Art Museum, Shenzhen China, The Center for Photography at Woodstock, Multimedia Art Museum Moskow, Erarta Museum st. Petersburg, Culture and Arts Center Daegu Korea, Capitain-Petzel gallery Berlin, KIT (Kunst Im Tunnel) Düsseldorf, Temporare Kunsthalle Berlin, Autocenter Berlin, ICP New York, Capricious gallery New York, Higher Pictures gallery New York, Museum het Domein Sittard, the Netherlands, FOAM Amsterdam, Het Nederlands Fotomuseum Rotterdam, MARCA museum Catanzaro Italy, MAMAC (museum for modern and contemporary art) Liege, Belgium, gallery of the city Pecs Hungary, Kunstraum Niederösterreich Vienna, Gallery 1m3 Lausanne Switserland, Australian Center for Photography (ACP) Sydney and Dutch Culture Center Sjanghai
Kruithof is the recipient of the 2011 Photography Jury Grand Prize at the Hyères Festival, the 2012 Infinity Award, (International Center for Photography, New York), and the 2014 Charlotte Köhler Prize in the Netherlands.
Among other collections FOAM Amsterdam, Het Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Fotomuseum Winterthur Switzerland, Aperture Foundation New York and Museum Het Domein Sittard collect her work and Kruithof’s artistbooks are part of the public collection of the MOMA library, ICP library, New York Public Library, Pier 24 library and the library of Het Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam.
She was invited for the ‘Larry Sultan visiting artist program’ organized by CCA, Pier 24, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. She was also a visiting artist at VCU Richmond, MASSART Boston, Hartford Photography MFA and part of ‘art in context’ at Art Institute of Boston / Lesley University, and she lectured at TATE Modern in London and at Deichtorhallen Hamburg.
Anouk has been writing for Metropolis M magazine, Aperture Photobook Review and blogs such as 1000 Words magazine, Wanderingbears, PhotoEye and Photoq as well as fiction published in her own artistbooks.
In the summer of 2014 she started her publishing platform called stresspress.biz, where she shares her love for artistbookmaking, writing about photo and artistbooks by others and prepares for future publishing, both collaborations with others as well as her own artistbooks. She has published nine artistbooks so far, including The Bungalow published by Onomatopee Eindhoven, Untitled (I’ve taken too many photos / I’ve never taken a photo) selfpublished (stresspress.biz), Pixel-stress published by RVB-books Paris, A head with wings, published by LBM Saint Paul USA, Lang zal ze leven / Happy birthday to you, self-published, The daily exhaustion, published by KODOJI-press Baden Switzerland, Playing Borders, this contemporary state of mind, published by Revolver publishing by VVV, Berlin, Becoming Blue published by Revolver publishing by VVV, Het Zwarte gat / The black hole published by Episode publishers Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
Kruithof is also co-creator, director and jury member of the new Anamorphosis Prize, which will award $10,000, no strings attached, to the creator of the best self-published photobook of the previous year. The prize will be launched for the first time in spring 2015.