Featured Artist

Otto Kaan

Interview by Floor Kortman, Pictures by Otto Kaan

‘People talk about Otto Kaan like it’s some giant living in the hillside, coming down to visit the townspeople. We are Otto Kaan. Me, you, everybody, we are Otto Kaan. So Otto Kaan is going where we are going. So the next time you ask yourself, “Where is Otto Kaan going?” ask yourself, “Where am I going? How am I doing?”‘

Berend Otto (1985) and Guus Kaandorp (1986) are photographers, in a way.


Who is Otto Kaan, is he a fictional character?

Actually, there was a person who would be the character Otto Kaan. He would do the interviews, openings and such, as we’re both not too comfy with the representational part of this metier. But practically it proved to be a bit difficult – in the end you do want to show up at your own openings and have some beers.

Do you like photography?

Sometimes yes, sometimes no. In a way it’s the part of the work we fear the most. We could impossibly say we dislike photography, as we still consider us photographers, but the moments we get excited by photographs are scarce. And when it happens, usually it’s by photos that were never intended to be an interesting picture, like pictures on Marktplaats or the ones in the Rajapack folders. When trying to reproduce some of those images’ qualities you are of course totally hitting the plank miss – it is kind of a continuous mind fuck we have saddled ourselves up with.


Do you consider aesthetics at all when photographing?

Of course we consider aesthetics, but rather in a reverse manner. We always try to be less aesthetic; you don’t want it to get the overhand. It never seems to work though, as it always turns out hyper-aesthetic. We take only one or two negatives, even when photographing a 5m40 scaffold we built, or a mahogany furniture piece we’ve been sawing and varnishing for weeks. That said, we’re trained photographers, it would be impossible to pretend we’re completely indifferent about the photographic qualities our images. We have to work on that.

You recently made a mould of a statue’s nose that is supposed to be lucky, has it brought any luck to you at all so far? And how do you expect it to bring you luck in future ventures?

We did recently had an opening in Utrecht and (Dutch presenter/TV-personality) Maxim Hartman showed up so I would like to think it works – even though he actually attended for the other exhibitor. We hope it brings many riches, but so far its been so-so. Yet, you can never tell what misery it may have prevented.

Watch it here.


In 2013 you started sponsoring the second women’s team of Amsterdam based football club Devo ’58. Why do you do this? 

I guess it’s every boy’s dream to sponsor a football team – it’s a really pleasant idea to have eleven people scampering around in shirts that have your name on it. I don’t know, it makes us feel proud. And for all you know, the daughter of the Stedelijk’s chief curator could just be playing in the opposing team. Besides, a lot of major brands do it to promote their product, sponsoring a football team kind of says your making it big, right?