All photos by Anouk Kruithof from Automagic
New York-based Dutch photographer Anouk Kruithof describes herself as a "frenetic artist-bookmaker." Over the past 12 years, she's published nine outstanding interdisciplinary art books that have explored everything from picture-plane to materiality. Unfortunately, making art books is a tough gig these days. It has never been super lucrative, but we live in an era when even the major publishers are having trouble fronting the funds to put out books.
So, like many other modern photographers and artists, for her tenth book, Automagic, Anouk Kruithof has turned to crowdsourcing on Kickstarter. She has been working on Automagic since 2011 with the hope that the final project will be a 1,000-page tome of remixed, redefined, and recontextualized images and texts collected from the past 12 years of her life.
Sometimes when I see photographers pitching projects on Kickstarter, I get a little skeptical. So many of the photo books that are proposed through crowdfunding are vain affairs with mediocre photos that the photographer is audacious enough to turn into a charity case. But Anouk's effort is entirely different.
First off, just based on the excerpted images you'll see as you scroll below, it's going to be a spectacular book. Not to mention, she's vowed to use this campaign to not only fund her new book, but also to help other talented artists who can't get their stuff out through traditional channels.
Every dollar she makes beyond her $26,707 goal will go towards transforming StressPress.biz, a website that currently sells all of her previous books and archives her writing, into a "platform for collaboration" that she'll use to create and release work with other artists.
It's rare to find an artist like Kruithof who is actively trying to improve the community as well as produce their own work, but she has long been known for her collaborative spirit. Many of her previous efforts were born out of working with others—like her Happy Birthday to You project, which she made with the patients of a psychiatric unit.
Separately from her the Kickstarter campaign, Kruithof just co-founded a new annual award exclusively for self-published photo books, called the Anamorphosis Prize. With Kruithof, collector John A. Phelan, and curator Charlotte Cotton as a jury, the organization will award $10,000 to the winning book, no strings attached. A shortlist of 20 of the top self-published books will also be collected by MoMA Library.
Although Kruithof is clearly a champion of art books, she's also a realist. At the end of her Kickstarter video, the artist tells potential backers the truth: "Artist-bookmaking is not a profitable thing to do." And she's right, which is exactly why this project is important. We have to come out and support innovative efforts like hers to make sure that people as talented as Kruithof can continue to create in this form. At the very least, she deserves your Kickstarter cash more than the folks trying to raise money to make "booty shorts for Burning Man."