October 30, 2012 Author: Erik Kessels
In edition #11 of the ‘in almost every picture’ book series from Erik Kessels, we see a series of 78 portraits of Valerie, wet or in water, taken by her husband, Fred. Barring the first photograph, where Valerie wears a bathing suit, she is always shown fully clothed. Whether in swimming pools, pouring rain, the shower of their apartment, or the Gulf of Mexico… there she is: an aging, amply built woman, fully dressed with shoes and occasionally handbags and jewellery, soaking wet, looking into the camera and smiling.
Fred emphasises the clothing, when describing the photos, “A good part of the wet clothes adventure concept for us is the mental turn-on of taking a nice outfit into the water. Often, the more classy the outfit, the better!” Spanning 32 years, from the first photo in 1980 to the last photo in 2012, the book is a photographic timeline of their aquatic gallivanting. Or, as Fred describes it, “Sensuous, erotic stuff.”
Kessels does seem to thrive in the quirky, in his selection of found photography for the book series. By that measure, this book, #11, isn’t even that unusual. It embraces a certain level of outlandish behaviour in an otherwise perfectly normal looking woman from Florida, though the presentation of that in a book that may fall into the category of mere novelty. There is something completely infectious and charming about Valerie’s smile though, mischievous and loving, and occasionally an urgent, burning look in her eye that seems to shout that the water is much too cold. Yet, the endurance of her smile alone is a testament to the importance of playfulness in romance. Flipping through the pages of the book makes 32 years feel like no time at all.
In almost every picture #11 was edited and designed by Erik Kessels, using photos by Fred Clark. The book has been printed in an edition of 1,900 copies and 400 limited edition copies, and can be purchased through KesselsKramer Publishing.
Reviewed by Katherine Oktober Matthews.