Selected as one of the Best Books of 2015 by Hans Gremmen, Jeffrey Ladd, Alec Soth, Melanie McWhorter, Miwa Susuda, Sarah Bradley, Tiane Doan Na Champassak, JM Colberg
Paul Kooiker is among the most interesting conceptual photographers currently working in the Netherlands. Although his work consists entirely of photographic images, he is not so much a photographer as a sculptor and installation artist. His fascination with intriguing themes like voyeurism, innocence and clichés leads him to construct fictive collections of images that are of extremely uncertain origin, subject and significance. In his latest installation, Nude Animal Cigar, created at the invitation of the Hague Museum of Photography, Kooiker looks back over his twenty-year career in the visual arts. The result is a bewildering array of two hundred photographic works, in which images of nudes and of animals are interspersed with close-ups of the countless cigars he has smoked in his studio over the years.
Paul Kooiker is not interested in creating the perfect photographic image. The value of his work lies not in his individual photographs (which are sometimes overexposed, blurred by camera movement or grainy), but in what he does with them postproduction – the subsequent process of selection and manipulation. In the initial phase of his creative process he is a deliberately ‘bad’ photographer, producing a mass of exploratory material that often runs to hundreds of images. He then approaches this material as a visual artist, creating ‘collections’ in the form of three-dimensional installations and photo books. These fictive collections look as if they have been found somewhere or have turned up in some ancient suitcase abandoned for decades in an attic. To ensure their credibility, Kooiker pays meticulous attention to internal consistency of form and style. This stands in sharp contrast to the contents of his series, which are often enigmatic and vaguely disturbing.