What are the most unusual dogs

Erik Kessels: Black Dog's Secret

Yellowed and long-forgotten family photos of complete strangers - what seems worthless to other people is Erik Kessel's greatest passion. The Dutch advertiser, artist and publicist rummages in flea and antique markets around the world for photographs from bygone times. In this way, he has saved around 150,000 albums from oblivion in recent years. What excites him about the old photographs? The imperfection of the images, the technical breakdowns and above all the stories of the human protagonists - and of course those of the animal ones.

Mr. Kessels, you have an unusual hobby!

Oh, I don't really think so. Photos have always interested me. But not the art of shooting them yourself. I see myself more as a collector and curator who deals with images and photographs.

Let's talk about one of your most unusual discoveries, the black dog.

About ten years ago I was strolling through a flea market in New York one morning and discovered a photo album that immediately interested me. Unfortunately, another man had his eye on it and haggled over the price with the seller. I stood behind him and looked over his shoulder at the album. I still remember exactly how I thought: I absolutely have to have these photos. Fortunately, the ten dollars for the old album were too much for the interested party - and I hit it right away.


What can be seen in the photos?

About 80 percent of the pictures - whether in the garden, on the sofa or in front of a white wall - show a black something. One wonders: an optical illusion, a ghost or an animal? At first glance I couldn't tell - and that made me curious. But when I examined the pictures more closely, I was soon sure: The mysterious outline is a black dog, I suspect a spitz.

And what exactly is it about these ominous photographs that fascinates you so much?

I find it very remarkable how much passion, patience and perseverance the dog owners - judging by the way the houses are built, an American couple - tried for twelve years to portray their beloved pet. Without success! If you put the many pictures next to each other, as I did back then, the whole situation is almost mysterious. And it's always funny: For example, the photo in which the man strokes a huge black spot. Or one on which the landlady poses next to something indefinable. And let's not forget the photograph that shows her in a lively conversation with what looks like a dark triangle.

It's also a bit surprising that the couple hasn't learned from their photography mistakes after so many years, isn't it?

A little, that's true. But that's exactly what I'm happy about. Because everyone can take perfect pictures, as you can see them in abundance today on Instagram and Facebook. Authentic pictures like this one are much more exciting. Photographs that tell a story.

And what story do they tell about the black dog?

One of two absolute animal lovers. Perhaps the couple's children had already left the house or they were both childless. But one thing is certain: the dog was very much loved and played the leading role in their lives. And at some point they managed to take a picture of their darling. The funny thing is: This incident also resulted from a mistake. Because in the picture that shows the dog in the garden in front of the house, you can finally see the animal's face. But only because the photo was completely overexposed.


There are even more pictures of the black dog in Erik Kessel's book "In almost every picture # 9", which can be ordered directly from the artist: http://www.kesselskramerpublishing.com/ ")

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