this is a guest post – a review of en event that took place in amsterdam between the 19th – 23rd of september. i met andreea online and we bonded over a shared interest: the teshima art museum. she is currently doing a visual arts, media and architecture ma in amsterdam, at the vrije universiteit. her graduation thesis was on kinetic art.
i can’t imagine a better fit for my blog, right?
from the first moment i set foot in amsterdam, about five weeks ago, the unseen poster caught my eye. since i was new in town, i could easily relate to the ‘first edition’ feeling so i decided this would be a good place to start with. when i discovered that foam, along with platform a and vandejong, were among the organizers, i was even more eager to go. i ended up volunteering but that’s a story for some other time.
the event was held at westergasfabriek, a former industrial park in the west of amsterdam. the unseen intrusion was minimal: white tents for the ticket&information points and wood scaffolding in front of the gashouder where one could sit and chat. the beautiful gashouder was not big enough for the 50 galleries from around the world that showcased their photographers at this first unseen edition so 10 of them were exhibited in transformatorhuis, the red brick building nearby. you must imagine these industrial buildings as empty shells, no pillars, no dividing walls and the works displayed on wood panels, dressed in white, which cut into the round gashouder like slices, all converging to the center tower where all the dutch people were eating their dutch little sandwiches. i loved how they used the space: it felt intimate and very well connected. they managed to bring together photographic works that were very diverse – my brain was humming from the large-scale visual conversation. and every once in a while i would look up to see the wooden beams that supported the roof, diverging in a single, all-embracing solid wall. honestly, it couldn’t have been better.
unseen was promoted as an opportunity to discover young unknown photographers from around the world. however, someone like the sartorialist did slip through from time to time strongly contrasting with the genres that actually dominated the scene such as experimental, artsy, abstract. i am no expert in photography but i do follow some photography blogs and i was quite excited to find some bookmarked names displayed: michael wolf (represented by two galleries), ina jang, yumiko utsu or julie cockburn. i really enjoyed elspeth diederix phosphorescent fine detailing, lisa holden’ painterly works, nadav kalder’s chalk-white nudes, miklos gaal’s huge print called dusk and so many others. it would be pointless to name everyone so i’ll just drop you some gallery names that you can check out: m97 gallery, christophe guye galerie, martin asbaek gallery, gallery taik, yossi milo gallery. i thought it was quite a bold selection for a fair, with alison rossiter’s photographs on expired, vintage photo paper, yuji obata’s snowflakes, matthew brandt and his taste tests in color – ok, i’ll stop. suffice it to say, you should have been there.
beside the photo fair, unseen showcased the photographers from foam magazine issue #28/ talent on big suspended boards, all along the entrance alley; there was also a glass pavilion for foam magazine with discounts and whatnot. and if magazines are not your thing, there was also an offprint bookfair with plenty of art books and other pretty stuff that only credit cards can buy.
on one hand, promoting virtually ‘unseen’ young photographers, on the other hand, encouraging first-time collectors, the fair hosted the unseen collection in a glass pavilion where all exhibited photographs were priced under €1,000, supposedly making all visitors feel like potential buyers. the speakers’ corner also talked about photography collecting strategies for beginners, in addition to tackling documentary photography and speculating on the future of photography. they even had an unseen cinema, screening films about david bailey, corinne day, bill cunningham or diana vreeland.
and now that i’ve got you thinking fashion, let’s go next door to the exhibition fashion! photographs from the camera work collection. now imagine, on colorful panels, works by diane&allen arbus, richard avedon, man fucking ray, helmut newton, peter lindbergh, herb ritts and the like. long story short, steven klein totally stole the show with his dark, twisted photography and two short films documenting his work, featuring naomi campbell, madonna, angelina and brad pitt, etc., etc. I especially enjoyed seeing tom ford in the nude, getting a polish job. yummy!
all in all, i really enjoyed the atmosphere, the beat, the hype, but most of all, the feeling of having my eyes pop out of visual excitement.
photo credits: hoover over each picture for details