Unseen Photofair – Amsterdam

Photouclan’s Adam Mead recently visited the Unseen Photofair, in what proved to be an insightful look at contemporary photographic practise.

“Unseen has grown with its second year out of a sincere enthusiasm for photography. From day one we wanted to provide not just a feast for the eyes, but for the mind as well. A place that was integral to the exchange of dialogue, artistic expression and ideas. Unseen is a centre of gravity for those artists who use the medium in unexpected, innovative, intelligent and provocative ways.”

The fair was located in Westergasfabriek, a disused gasworks. The site being split into different areas:

Unseen Photofair

More than fifty photography galleries from all over the world were exhibiting, with the focus on undiscovered  photography talent and unseen work of established photographers.

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The Photo Fair also provided a platform for artist-run initiatives to showcase their work alongside the traditional gallery stands, MELK being one of the highlights:

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A short walk to the other festival sites gave an opportunity to see the winners of this years Foam Talent Awards:

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Unseen Theatre

The theatre was hosting a series of talks, interviews and panel discussions around contemporary photographic themes. The stand out talk here was “How to Connect in a Globalising World” The panel consisted of curators from across the globe and there was some lively debate:

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The discussion was based around the theme of how, in the West, are we to react to emerging global markets? How do we appreciate other cultural traditions? How can curators, photographers, experts and scholars worldwide develop a mutual understanding of developing art? And can we speak of such a thing as truly global art?

Leaving the theatre, I stumbled upon an interesting exhibition inspired by the work of Brad Feuerhelm (photography collector and dealer), some innovative display techniques were on offer and the highlights here were the artists Steffi Klenz and Isabelle Wenzel:

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JR’s Inside Out

The photographer JR travelled to Unseen in order to “create an exhibition with no boundaries” members of the public were invited to take part in the exhibition, having their portrait taken in a mobile photo studio, this being printed onsite, instantly and displayed in the same building:

Unseen Book Market

Set in a familiar book fair format, the book market provided a great chance to not only see and engage with artist books but also talk to the publishers behind the work.

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The Unseen dummy awards were also located in the centre of the room, this competition gave photographers the chance to win the publication of their photobook dummy.

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Just outside the book market the artist Tom Lovelace, whose work was on display, was also staging performative interventions throughout the festival:

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Unseen Living Room

The Living room was an informal meeting place that gave an opportunity to listen to artist talks, discussions and demonstrations.

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One particular highlight was the photographer Melinda Gibson, demonstrating the process of binding her book “Miss Titus Becomes A Regular Army Mac”:

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More information on the Unseen Fair can be found here: Unseen

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