A key source and focus of Kruse’s Kasher Gallery show were the notebooks Kruse has created over the past twelve years while on the road—her Reisebuchs. These have frequently functioned as the primary laboratory of her artistic practice. And in all, she has employed her distinctive style of collage. Not exactly artist’s sketchbooks—although many of her current large-scale works are derived from their pages. Neither are they simply a personal journal or diary—though they do provide an intimate record of Kruse’s emotional life. Since in much of this (as well as other work), Kruse explores her themes in self-portraits employing elaborate costumes, her Reisebuchs can also be read both as the record of an ongoing series of private performance by an actress, and as an extended, multi- faceted self-portrait.
Kruse’s Reisebuch project begun as an enterprise of solitude, done without assistants or collaborators, and purely for herself. In 1995, her very first entry reads:
It is 1:35 AM and I am starting to glue my Polaroids into this book. I would like to make a lot of pictures, an emotional diary in form of photography. I started about 3 weeks ago and have just finished the 3rd one. I think it’s great. And oddly enough I seem to identify with it. Let’s see what else will come out of my head ....
During the dozen years since, Kruse’s approach to mixed media collage has evolved into a style which typically combines small Polaroids with textured tape, watercolor, ink, crayon, gouache, metallic paper, newsprint, and colored plastic gels. But, initially, she says, it was something of a conversation with herself, that she had between modeling jobs, or when far from home on assignment, on idle nights with time to kill in a hotel suite. She would muse on a character, think through her story, dress up appropriately, take photographs with a timer, and then stay awake for hours creating elaborate layouts which amplified the narrative of the image with text and collage or drawing.
In 1997, Kruse shyly showed her first book to a few friends. The enthusiasm of one of them landed her her first job, a fashion story for the highly regarded Paris magazine Mixte. This in turn brought her to the attention of Katy Barker, who signed her up to the agency’s illustrious roster of photographers, which included such luminaries as David Bailey, Jean Baptiste Mondino, and Terry Richardson. Kruse’s first gallery show followed almost immediately, organized in Paris by Donatella Versace and was followed with a solo show held at the Robert Morat Gallery in Hamburg in 2007.
Reisebuch1-5 is published in a limited edition of 425 signed and numbered copies. Each is hand finished by Kruse, and each copy features a unique hand- stamped cover. A special hand-branded leather bound edition of 75 copies is also available in a wooden box with a unique photogram.
Reisebuch 1-5, 2008
Limited edition book, 254 pages, edition of 425. Illustrated wraps, each unique, hand stamped by the artist using acrylic ink and rubber stamps of the artists own design. Spine hand stenciled by the artist. Binding threads are hand painted by the artist. Encased in a clamshell box printed with montages by the artist, with interior ribbons trimmed and painted by the artist.
12 x 9 1/4 x 1 1/2 inches
Reisebuch 1-5, Special Edition, 2008
Limited special edition book, 254 pages, edition of 75. Leather bound with genuine sheep leather.Each cover is unique, hand branded by the artist using aluminum stamps of her own design. Two pages are hand collaged by the artist with silver tape and two photographs. Binding threads are hand painted by the artist. Each book is encased in a handmade wooden box with a printed photogram and colored decals with interior ribbons trimmed and painted by the artist.