“The world is dominated by photos,” begins the introduction to Anouk Kruithof’s The Bungalow, a book which, despite making some contentious claims, offers an engaging and individual look at the evolving nature of photography, as well as our changing relationship with it. To make the work Kruithof installed herself in a bungalow with digitised images from Brad Feurhelm’s esoteric vernacular photography collection. She then reworked and rearranged her material into visual chapters exploring the relationship between screen and reality, and between the physical and digital image. Each of these chapters is constructed to tell a different ‘image story’ reflected in the selected photographs, their treatment and even in the papers they are printed on.
Taken individually, the selected photographs are a brilliantly odd mix, reflecting in microcosm the breadth of photography’s vernacular usage. They range from children in Halloween costumes to images of medical deformities or bondage scenes where the actors have been skillfully cut out of the print for reasons unclear. Kruithof’s handling and arrangement of the photographs, more often than not, adds something to them, and is invariably visually and intellectually entertaining. The spreads and sequences where she establishes subtle thematic similarities and dissimilarities are the strongest, while those that primarily play on the visual continuities across her selected photographs are perhaps more obvious.
Throughout The Bungalow, the photographs are framed by the crosshairs and borders of photographic manipulation and viewing software, a constant reminder that what we are looking at is not a traditional collage of analogue prints but an electronic arrangement of photography existing in what Kruithof calls a ‘screenshot reality’. With this focus on the new digital environment that most photographs inhabit lying at the core of the book, it might seem a little strange that this project should want to exist as a physical book at all. Really though, this chimes quite perfectly with what The Bungalow seems particularly to be driving at, which is our still largely unresolved sense of what, materially speaking, photography ought to be.
All images courtesy of the artist. © Anouk Kruithof/Brad Feuerhelm Collection