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Erik Kessels

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Destroy My Face

Erik Kessels - Destroy my faceToday we shoot and shoot until we get it right. It seems like we’re living in the midst of a photographic renaissance. We are making more images now than ever before. This mass produced image culture brings the value of an image in contemporary society into question. Our current society seems to be driven by consumption, or more specifically overconsumption. We consume images like fast food; en masse, shovelling them in with reckless abandon. Like the food we consume; it’s designed to look perfect but often devoid of any real substance. The same can be said on how we present the image of ourselves online. Being insta-perfect has become the norm instead of the exception. This online private propaganda has often even a place offline.

Plastic surgery has become something pretty normal in today’s society. However, when taken overboard, these surgeries can result in deformation and transforms mankind into monsters.

“Destroy My Face” consists of 60 portraits composed of 800 portraits of men and women selected on the internet, all of which have somehow transformed their faces by means of plastic surgery and/or fillers. The 60 composed portraits are the result of an algorithm and do not represent existing persons, they are printed on sticker folie 4m x 4m.

Erik Kessels

Dutch artist Erik Kessels (1966) will showcase these archetypical faces in a grid, to be seen in a very
unusual spot, where visitors can interact and interfere with these faces. As easy
as they were once made beautiful, as easy they are now destroyed.

Skatepark Pier15 will be completely dedicated to the installation ‘Destroy my Face’ during Breda Photo. The images of plastic surgery faces in the installation will be slowly destroyed by the skateboarders that ride on them.

Additional Information

BredaPhoto 2020 is showing a wide range of photo series and works with the overall theme “the best of times, the worst of times”. The title is inspired bij the opening paragraph of the book “A tale of two cities” by Charles Dickens, first published in 1859.  Dickens words are still relevant today.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,
it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,
it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity,
it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness,
it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.
Charles Dickens

Also this year BredaPhoto presents visual stories and visions from photographers that inspire, move, confront and raise questions. This has again become apparent in recent days. There is not one answer to the question of what is “the best of times” or what is “the worst of times”? Everyone answers such a question in their own way. As an individual, to what extent can you influence those bad times so they will become good times? To put it differently:  to what extent can we create life itself? Erik Kessels also asked himself that question. Fascinated by the urge of people to undergo plastic surgery, he shows the work “Destroy my face” in Skate hall Pier 15 during “the best of times, the worst of times” provoking diverse reactions.

Kessels himself stated the following about his project:
“Plastic surgery has become something pretty normal in today’s society. However, when taken overboard, these surgeries can result in deformations. The representation of oneself and what is real seem to blur more and more. The same can be said for how we present the image of ourselves online. Being insta-perfect can become the norm instead of the exception and we can manipulate our image in several seconds. The deformation that once started with plastic surgery will continue in this installation while skaters create another uncontrolled reality. Machine learning, as another artificial intervention, was used to generate the selection after entering all, male and female, available online plastic surgery portraits.  

The intention of this work is ironic and intends to evoke a dialogue about self-acceptance. Of course it doesn’t mean to encourage violence against women. With this work I never wanted to offend anyone, but when reading recent comments online, I understand I’ve done so and I apologise for that. In my opinion the function of art in society is to start dialogues and I continue to believe in that”.  Erik Kessels 

BredaPhoto Foundation was established in 2003 and has set aims to show contemporary photography that addresses social issues. Thanks to this year’s theme, the 9th edition has become a multi-vocal presentation including many points of view, as BredaPhoto once envisioned and still does.

Fleur van Muiswinkel
Director BredaPhoto

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