Stephan Keppel – Soft Curve

Stephan Keppel – Soft Curve

de Appel, Schipluidenlaan 12, Amsterdam

15 June 2022

15 June – 30 September 2022
Wednesday - Friday 12:00 – 18:00

About the exhibition

Stephan Keppel (Anna Paulowna, 1973) photographs the urban-fabric of cities he meanders through, but not by framing the larger structure of its components, or even the stated aspects of those components in their design. With the photographs he takes he is not interested in the volume(s) of this fabric, or its perspective, or even to tell a singular or linear narrative of its existence. With his camera he focusses his gaze on the details that are usually overlooked by our daily gaze. He looks for pattern(s) by means of the small stiches in our metropolitan reality, or even better, there where the configuration of the urban fabric slips or has been stretched and manipulated by use. Upon these outings into the cityscapes, he frames and captures the many different smaller rhythms and patterns present in our daily urban life.

It has been said that he puts the marginal in the centre, which is true only when we understand that ‘the marginal’ here is not limited to the location of his subject-matter within the city itself – although that has been the location of some of his publications. Marginal is relevant to his practice in what happens next, namely that he makes the rendition – or reproduction - of the subject he has captured again the subject matter, making the ‘original’ secondary, or marginal. Whether it be via publications, incorporating the actual objects he has captured next to their photographic interpretation, or heavily altering the tone, colour and/or framing of a printed image, Keppel’s relationship to photography is not just as it being an instrument for capturing and reproducing our city surroundings, but more as a tool for continuously taking apart and re-presenting the details that make these surroundings unique and singular.

In the case of Stephan Keppel’s presentation in the Livingroom at de Appel, it may be regarded as the first chapter in a two-step collaboration. For this project, he has opened his extensive photographic archive of Amsterdam to the specific criteria of Nieuw-West since 2017, when de Appel moved into the neighbourhood and into Broedplaats Lely. For this first chapter within the Livingroom inside de Appel, his selection of images and relics from outside – as well as how to present them – are inspired by the space’s particular interior architecture, thereby offering a new kind of setting and opportunities for our visitors and programme. Within his selection of images what is also influential are the city surroundings themselves, as every image has been taken within Nieuw-West and is relevant to the accelerated speed of change that gentrification brings about outside the walls of this Livingroom. And that outside reality will be the second chapter of this project, to take shape after the summer and in the form of a newspaper to be disseminated throughout Nieuw-West and beyond.

Scetch 'Soft Curve' by Stephan Keppel, 2022

About the artist

Stephan Keppel (Anna Paulowna, 1973) studied art at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague (1994-1998) and has since worked primarily with photographic and printmaking techniques. He moved his studio to Amsterdam in 2003. He also started a printmaking studio in his hometown Anna Paulowna, in his family's former farmhouse. His works take the peripheral conditions of architecture as their starting point, though in recent years, he has focused more specifically on the residue of those conditions. The projects can be described as urban symphonies, in which a lively game unfolds between photography, graphic design, found footage, scans and xerox prints. To put it in musical terms: the works are filled with resonance.

Keppel's book projects have been acquired by various collections, including Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Stadsarchief Amsterdam, Nederlands Fotomuseum in Rotterdam, Centre for Architecture in New York and Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montreal. Keppel won the Somfy Photography Award 2020 for an installation at the Nederlands Fotomuseum.

See also