Fabulous Failures – Workshop with Erik Kessels

Failure is important.
If you’re not willing to humiliate yourself, make mistakes and downright fuck-up, you should consider working in a cubicle farm. It’s safer there.
Because as a creative, you’ll be called an idiot at least once a day.
That’s okay.
Making mistakes and failures, is how you progress.
Without it, you’ll be stuck in the same old safe zone.
In other words: boring.
So if we want to do this thing we love, make stuff, we have to get over our need not to fail.

We live in an age where most of our tools we use are close to perfection. Our computers, phones, applications and navigation systems make no mistakes. Perfection is not a really good starting point to create new ideas, so to sometimes deliberately go towards a mistake and from their find a new direction is actually something good. Society teaches us to avoid mistakes, but for creative people and innovators they are essential.

Erik Kessels will speak about his book Failed It! How mistakes inspire him and how he makes works out of it. In a photographic workshop he will force participants to fail and fuck up. Participants will define a failure and will later make a work out of it. At the end of the workshop all the results will be on show.


Erik Kessels is a Dutch artist, designer and curator and is since 1996 Creative Partner of international communications agency KesselsKramer. As an artist and photography curator Kessels has published over 60 books of his ‘re-appropriated’ images, is editor of the alternative photography magazine Useful Photography and has written the international bestseller Failed It!

For the project Loud & Clear, brought together in a DVD, he collaborated with artists like Marlene Dumas, Ryuichi Sakamoto and Candice Breitz. He has taught in numerous universities and academies, including the Gerrit Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam, the ECAL in Lausanne and the Amsterdam Academy of Architecture, where he curated an exhibition dedicated to amateur photography. Co-curated the exhibition featured at the Rencontres in Arles, From Here On, with Martin Parr, Joachim Schmid, Clément Chéroux and Joan Fontcuberta. As an artist Kessels made exhibitions such as Loving Your PicturesMother Nature, 24HRS in Photos, Album Beauty, Unfinished Father and GroupShow.

In 2010 Kessels was awarded with the Amsterdam Prize of the Arts, in 2016 nominated for the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize. In 2017 his mid-career retrospective was shown in Turin and Düsseldorf and exhibited this year at the MOMA. He was called “a visual sorcerer” by Time Magazine and a “modern anthropologist” by Vogue (Italia).