Interview with Anouk Kruithof

Foam has a long history with Anouk Kruithof, who showed her work at the museum for the first time in 2006, less than 3 years after graduating. Zippora Elders, curator at Foam, had a chat with her.

9 artistbooks (2006-2014) © Anouk Kruithof

With an education in photography, Anouk attracts attention with her multidisciplinary approach: she photographs, makes books, sculptures and installations, writes and lectures. Her work often refers to technical progress, digital tools and the meaning of image-making in contemporary society. This she cleverly combines with questioning the body, performative means and traditional craftsmanship.

Although born and bred in the Netherlands, Anouk is currently based in New York. She graduated in 2003 and her star has been rising ever since. She exhibited at the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Capitain-Petzel gallery Berlin, KIT (Kunst Im Tunnel) Düsseldorf, published nine books, and won several prizes such as the ICP Infinity Award (2012) and the Charlotte Köhler Prize (2014). Her work is collected by institutions like Fotomuseum Winterthur Switzerland, Aperture Foundation New York and the MoMa Library.

"My memories might not be rooted in my mind as actual memories of events, but rather as unreal memories, created by taking photos, looking at them and reworking them."

ZE: Your first collaboration with Foam was for the solo show with Jaap Scheeren, when they still worked as a duo, in April 2006 with the project The Black Hole. Almost a decade has passed since then… What are you currently working on?

AK: I am working on a project for the solo show at my gallery in September, a solo during Unseen and a solo at the end of August in the project space Green is Gold in Copenhagen, called #Evidence. And there is a third large project I am doing, which will be an online work in the first place about anonymity, surveillance, indexing; it has no title yet and this will slowly evolve over the next year. I am also working on AUTOMAGIC, my 10th artists' book. And I've just successfully finalized my first crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter and I want to finalize before the end of this year.

Sweaty Sculpture (back) & Sweaty Sculpture (denim) 2015

That sounds busy… Can you tell us more about the AUTOMAGIC project?

I've been working on AUTOMAGIC since May 2011. It will be an extensive book, which contains images and text out of the past 12 years of my 'automagic archive'. The book does not attempt to have a clear narrative, thus this will be created by the viewer from their own memories and associations towards the open-image stories and stimulated by text notes and short fictional stories. At this moment there’s a lot of research about how taking photos changes our perspective in memory. We're outsourcing our memory to the cards in our camera's and our smart phones, and the interruption of attention when taking a picture can also hinder our future retrospection. I am pretty guilty of those thoughts, because I am always framing the world and always have been, since the moment I got my first camera. My memories might not be rooted in my mind as actual memories of events, but unreal memories created by taking photos, looking at them and reworking them. My book AUTOMAGIC is an exploration and a demonstration, which represents a transformed image archive by means of analogue photo-montages, screenshots, reproductions, editing and the addition of text. AUTOMAGIC will be hardcover US letter size, almost 2 inches thick, consisting of many different chapters printed on different paper. The diversity of chapters and topics, the tactility of the paper feel will make of this book a layered sculpture.

"I thought I would have to do 
commissioned work forever."

Driving Hazy & Push-up, 2013 © Anouk Kruithof

Books became very important to you. In the summer of 2014 you started your publishing platform called, which is all about your love for making artists’ books. You have published nine art books so far, and the first was related to The Black Hole shown at Foam back in 2006. What were your dreams right after art school, and how has this developed over the years?

The dream was to develop my practice freely without having economic troubles. Making books, exhibitions, organizing exhibitions, writing, publishing, collaborating. It's all I do now, I can live from it too. At that time in the summer of 2003 I thought that maybe I would have to do commissioned work forever, but I don't do this anymore since 2008 when I moved from Rotterdam to Berlin. I am very happy. I am, since years now, 'a fulltime artist' as they say this in the US of A, haha.

(Powersponge) Brick, 2013 © Anouk Kruithof

That's great to hear. You’re surely very active, and obviously have a deep understanding of social and digital networks. Do you believe having an entrepreneurial spirit is necessary for young artists today?

Not per se. Yes I have an entrepreneurial spirit, but I think it's best to stay concentrated on developing a strong body of work in the core of everything, when you have some leftover energy, it might be handy to use the mediated landscape to 'show' your work there as well.

RUHE (performance), 2012 © Anouk Kruithof

"Photoplanet will become
a more holistic place."

And if you were a forecaster, what would you forecast about the future of photography? What's going to happen with the medium and its practitioners?

Every human being is a photographer and boundaries will fade more and more, because we’re living in a time where scanners, lenses and phones can record, and all human beings can use those tools. There is an open cultural image archive, which everyone can use and authorship will matter less and less. The authenticity will be more shining through ideas and the way someone transforms and translates those into action and/or a form of art. Photoplanet will become a more holistic place.

   Façade, 2014 © Anouk Kruithof

About Anouk Kruithof

Anouk Kruithof (1981) is a Dutch New York based artist. Her work has been exhibited in international institutions, such as Het Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Shenzhen China, The Center for Photography at Woodstock, Capitain-Petzel gallery Berlin, KIT (Kunst Im Tunnel) Düsseldorf, Temporare Kunsthalle Berlin, Autocenter Berlin, ICP New York, Museum het Domein Sittard, the Netherlands, Foam Amsterdam, Het Nederlands Fotomuseum Rotterdam, Australian Center for Photography (ACP) Sydney. 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. 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. 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.

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