Photo Book / 24 x 33 cm / by Mariken Wessels / 2015

Taking Off. Henry my neighbor


Taking Off is a real picture story of a failed marriage, of sexual frustration and voyeurism. An extraordinary amount of photographs and cut-up collages comprise an archival vertigo of amateur nude art.

Through people she met on a journey through the United States, Mariken Wessels gained access to the studio and the entire archive of Henry, as well as full consent over its use. She started redacting the work and rearranging it, so to form an artist's book, in which the audience will be invited to a journey into Henry’s vision of his wife and muse.

In Taking Off, we are invited to discover the photographic obsessions of Henry, which through encountering them in the book could become our obsessions too. For years, Henry's wife has been under his spell and turned a model for his extravagant amateur art. In a room of his own, he collected and categorized over 5,500 black-and-white photos, for which she had absent-mindedly posed naked, into a self-fashioned classification.

After she overcame her feelings of shame, she finally "discovered" the dazzling world of Henry, seeing herself endlessly multiplied. After this confrontation, she literally threw his life’s work out on the street, then disappeared out of his life. Henry saved the remnants, started living a hermit’s life, he cut up the remaining photographs and turned them into collages. He then used those as models for clay figurines – ever more removed from the original object. Finally, Henry disappeared into the woods, practicing the survival techniques he had learned from collected manuals. No one has seen or heard from him since.

Wessels became a trusted channel for this story to be communicated to the world, thereby making an artistic plea for the courage of Henry's muse to expose her husband’s creative madness.

Special Edition                                      Limited Edition







Taking Off. Henry my neighbor / 2015
Concept and design Mariken Wessels
Dimensions: 24 cm x 33 cm, 330 pages, Full color 
Edition: 1000 copies
ISBN 9789490800345
Special edition of 25 copies
Limited edition of 10 copies
Second edition 2017


Winner of The 2016 Author Book Award Arles
1000 Words / Tim Clark
Photobookstore / Hannes Wanderer, Ramón Reverté, Tiane Doan Na Champassak
PhotoEye / Erik Kessels, Hans Gremmen, John Phelan 
Little Brown Mushroom 
10x10 Photobooks 
De Volkskrant
Josef Chladek

The book can be purchased directly from the artist or at various bookshops around the world. A second edition of the book is now available. Click here for a list of book shops. The special edition and limited edition can only be purchased directly from the artist via e-mail or from the Johan Deumens Gallery. Please note: variants of the special edition may differ. 

The artist book Taking Off was launched on May 22, 2015, at Offprint London, Tate Modern and May 28, 2015 at Amsterdam Art Fair. The book, published by APE (Art Paper Editions), is of the same format as Elisabeth – I want to eat (2008) and Queen Ann. P.S. Belly cut off (2010), the artist’s books with which it forms an open trilogy.