Historian and Storyteller
True to form, Karl Kessler cut math classes at the Bronx High School of Science to “audit” a friend’s photography class, and despite his poor judgement and uninvited presence, Karl’s loitering was accepted by the indulgent teacher. Soon he had bought a camera and financed a basement darkroom, his preferred living environment ever since. In the 1990s, after university, he moved from New York City to Canada and is now based in Kitchener, Ontario.
Since 2008 Karl and Sunshine Chen have worked together on the ongoing project Overtime, photographing and interviewing people who practice long-established but disappearing trades, professions, and traditions. Currently, Karl and photographer Brian Douglas are at work on a short documentary about the closing of Budds Department Store in Kitchener.
Karl’s lifelong fascination with buildings has seen him spend the past fourteen years as Waterloo Region’s coordinator of Doors Open Waterloo Region, part of Doors Open Ontario, the popular province-wide series of annual architecture appreciation events. Hundreds of buildings later, Karl thinks a lot about how we can take “the measure of a building” beyond the usual (architectural style, historical period, technical specifications) to how it affects us — our physiology, our thinking, our behaviour — for better, or for worse.
We’re sure that Karl will be happy to talk with any Americans about the rewards of having relocated to Canada!