The Netherlands

Wytske van Keulen


Wytske van Keulen portrays people who, for disparate reasons, live their lives as outsiders. Her distinctive method of documenting – at once plain and empathetic – nevertheless resists the stubborn tendency toward marginalization, whether emanating from society or from solitude. Both movements are revealed as a symptom of existential helplessness. On closer inspection, the position of the outsider can seldom be attributed to either voluntary withdrawal or imposed exclusion. It is necessary to breach this dichotomy and consider the existing condition in all its complexity and subtlety.

Since graduating from St. Joost (BA) and Post-St. Joost Photography (MFA) in Breda (NL) Wytske van Keulen has predominantly worked on long-term documentary projects which she presents as artist books and slide installations. In 2008 she self-published the book We would come to doubt everything. And almost everyone would come to doubt., in January 2014 her book Sous cloche was published by Kominek Books, Berlin. Van Keulen’s work was shown nationally as well as internationally at among others the Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam, the Camera Club of New York and Le Chateau d’Eau, Toulouse. Currently, Wytske is working on a new publication titled Stick Holding Branch combining photographs made between 2014 and 2019 in France, Japan and the United States. She is also working on a new project in Atlanta, Idaho (US), an old gold mining town at the end of the road, high up in the Idaho mountains. Here she’ll focus on the small population of nineteen year-round residents, the surrounding wilderness and the gold mining history. Wytske van Keulen lives and works in Amsterdam, The Netherlands and Boise, Idaho, USA.


Stick Holding Branch

Stick Holding Branch is a work in progress combining photographs taken in France, Japan and the United States between 2014 and 2019. It documents around individuals who deliberately chose their own path in life, setting aside society’s demanding expectations, following their ideals.

Currently, Wytske is working on a new publication with these works, it’s expected in Spring 2020.


Sous Cloche

Sous cloche brings together Wytske's photographic observations of Saskia and Andrez, two remarkable figures living a secluded life in the desolate mountain landscape of the French Pyrenees. Made over a period of four years, this precise selection of still lifes, portraits and landscapes offer an intimate view of both protagonists, who never met in person. The sequence is interspersed with short personal notes written by herself.

Sous cloche exists as an artist book published by Kominek Books, Berlin as well as a slide installation with two synchronized slide projectors and audio. This last form was also presented during once only screenings at San Serriffe, Amsterdam, Kominek Gallery, Berlin, and MING Studios, Boise ID, which she accompanied reciting text fragments from the book.


We would come to doubt everything…

'The documentary photo project We would come to doubt everything… deals with Juan (Jan), a Brabant dentist who thirty years ago left everything behind to start a new life in the remote mountain village of San Sebastian de Garabandal in Spain. Juan de la Torre leads the life of a hermit and
 has devoted himself to the ‘study of life’, immersing himself in books on religion, alternative philosophies, the falsification of history and conspiracy theories.

Van Keulen visited Juan and took pictures of both the rugged, romantic mountain landscape around Garabandal and Juan’s daily life. By enveloping her subject, leaving openings in the image sequence and occasionally adding existing archive material to her photographs, the photographer is able to create a portrait of a mysterious figure. Van Keulen stretches the limits of the documentary genre, and explicitly appeals to the viewer’s imagination.’ (Xander Karskens, 2008)

The work We would come to doubt everything… is presented in a book as well as a slide installation. For the book I asked artist/writer Nickel van Duijvenboden to write a short fiction. The story is entitled Hohenau, after a village founded by German colonists in Paraguay. Van Duijvenboden wrote the story through loose associations with my photographs. Though reality and fiction share some parallels, the outcome is totally different.