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Best Books - A Closer Look: In Almost Every Picture 11

In Almost Every Picture 11 edited by Erik Kessels
I’m a big fan of the KesselsKramer's In Almost Every Picture series, so I was excited to see both book eleven and that it was selected as one of the Best Books of 2012. For those who are unfamiliar with the series, the books are edited by Erik Kessels (see his Best Books selections here) a present a variety of images of, more or less, the same thing: years of photographs documenting a pair of identically dress fraternal twins, well loved and often photographed pets, a lifetime of passport photos, shooting gallery bullseye portraits, a restaurant’s tradition of photographing customers with a piglet. (I've written previously about the series here.) The books are all a bit strange, but also beautiful, documenting particular and personal photographic traditions. One picture from any book in the series would be interesting, but when the photos are brought together with their companions, the volumes achieve something special. Book eleven, Fred & Valerie, is perhaps the weirdest collection to date – a series of images of a fully clothed woman in bodies of water. Fred takes the pictures and Valerie poses. They call it “wet fun adventure.”

from In Almost Every Picture 11

Beginning in 1980 and continuing to the present day, we see Valerie standing in various types of water – rivers, lakes, the ocean, fountains, pools – or just in the rain or shower. Clothes clinging to her body (in a few shots she just stands in the couple’s kitchen), Valerie smiles at the camera often with a clear sense of excitement in her eyes – at times caught mid-giggle. There’s no regard to clothes or shoes. Leather and silk, suit coats and nice dresses, even purses get wet. In a statement from Fred in the back of the book, he notes that fine dress is part of the excitement: “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!” Arranged chronologically, each image is noted with date, the name or type of water and the location.

from In Almost Every Picture 11

The images are bizarre, oddly sexual without being explicit, and feel a bit voyeuristic, but the book leaves me feeling happy rather than with a sense of creepy perversion. Some of this is due to the fact that we’ve been invited in as viewers, which changes the tone drastically. But beyond that, the couple clearly gets a huge amount of joy and a massive thrill out of their pastime. The collection is fun and funny, and I have to admire Valerie for her lack of self-consciousness – she quite literally jumps in with both feet. 30 years of a couple’s wet clothes and photographs – that, in and of itself, is really quite charming.

from In Almost Every Picture 11

The final picture in the book is actually printed on a postcard and slipped into the back cover, assuring the reader that Fred and Valerie not only revel in their wet adventure, but also in sharing it. The In Almost Every Picture series is always full of surprises. I look forward to book twelve. --Sarah Bradley

In Almost Every Picture 11 was selected as a Best Book of 2012 by:
Rémi Faucheux

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