THE INTERNATIONAL PHOTOGRAPHY FAIR ‘UNSEEN’ IS COMING TO WESTERGASFABRIEK
From 16 to 18 September the international photography fair Unseen will take place in Amsterdam for the 10th time. For this special anniversary edition, 70 galleries, 65 publishers, and 12 special projects will descend on the Westergasfabriek grounds in Amsterdam. Ever since its first edition in 2012 Unseen has occupied a special place in the world of international photography. The fair is known worldwide for its intimate atmosphere, its high quality, and its good name in the circle of the international photography world. From 16 to 18 September it will once again transform Amsterdam, and for the 10th time, into the epicenter of photography.
Director Roderick van der Lee: “This year we have worked closely with several galleries to make this 10th edition of Unseen a global reflection of the latest developments in art photography, and we have succeeded incredibly well. With 70 galleries from 16 countries, including the US, Mexico, Morocco, India, Iran, and South Africa, this edition provides an inspiring picture of the direction in which the art form is moving. The museum quality that Unseen is known for is again confirmed this year by artists exhibiting simultaneously at the fair and in a museum, by the large number of curators from top international museums who have already confirmed their presence, and by our Unbound guest curator at the Centre Pompidou in Paris.”
Among the participants are Dutch veterans such as Galerie Ron Mandos, whose work includes that of Erwin Olaf and the legendary choreographer Hans van Manen, and Galerie Flatland, whose work includes that of an international celebrity such as Valerie Belin. Galerie tegenboschvanvreden will be presenting a special exhibition by Paul Kooiker, with an overview of his best fashion photography from recent years, which has brought him international acclaim. The fair also welcomes many veterans from abroad, such as the Berlin Robert Morat Gallery, which is showing work by the photography duo Lena Amuat & Zoë Meyer. Also Nature Morte, the first Indian gallery to participate in prestigious art fairs like Art Basel, Frieze, and FIAC, returns to Unseen with a solo presentation by Bharat Sikka.
Among the newcomers, Unseen welcomes Bitforms Gallery, which specializes in digital art and new media, with branches in New York and San Francisco; Loft Gallery from Casablanca with a solo presentation by Mous Lamrabat who is also currently exhibiting at Foam Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam; and Galerie Barbara Seiler from Zurich, with a solo presentation of photographic work by Marcel van Eeden. Simultaneously with Unseen, Van Eeden also has an exhibition at the van Gogh Museum.
In the section Past/Present, introduced last year, based on a direct, substantive dialogue between vintage photography and a contemporary artist, art dealer Ton Peek presents a rare series of works from the period 1936 – 1944 by the hand of Lionel Wendt. He does this in visual rhyme with work by British photographer Laura Stevens.
New to Unseen’s offering is the addition of NFTs. After many discussions with various parties, Unseen will enter into a partnership with the international NFT platform for art photography Unveil this edition and the coming year.
Director Roderick van der Lee: “The rise of blockchain technology and NFTs in the art market has obviously not escaped Unseen’s attention. A thorough investigation into this wonderful digital world seemed crucial to us. With Unveil we felt a clear kinship. Unseen and Unveil have a shared mission. We want to offer young talent and innovators access to the international art market. But with a strongly curated outlook. The practical, democratic advantages that the digital world has to offer to up-and-coming talent, no matter where or how make this partnership a valuable addition to the way Unseen wants to profile itself.”
Last year Unseen launched the independent and ambitious section Unbound, dedicated to researching the boundaries of the photographic universe. Unbound was well received and qualified as unprecedentedly innovative, particularly by insiders. Unseen found Damarice Amao of the Centre Pompidou willing to join Unbound as guest curator for the upcoming anniversary edition. From a large number of proposals from artists, art academies, galleries, institutes, and museums, Amao selected a dozen projects in which photography is mixed with installation art, sculpture, digital art, virtual reality and performance art.
Sixty-seven independent (inter)national publishers of art and photography books participate in this popular section of Unseen. After last year’s restrictions, there is now room again for special book launches and signing sessions. These include the world premiere of Anton Corbijn’s latest book at Hannibal Books with a book signing by the master photographer. A milestone is the launch of a new Book Award in collaboration with GOST Books, London’s renowned boutique publisher of photography books. From the total of 353 entries from 40 countries – unpublished projects by photographers – a professional jury will choose a winner whose project will be designed and published as a book at GOST.
Stuart Smith, publisher of GOST: “We’re really excited to see the projects submitted for this new award. We pride ourselves on a publishing output which defies categorization and by collaborating with Unseen Amsterdam – with their reputation for showcasing the most innovative contemporary photography – we hope to be able to support a photographer or artist with the production of a book to share their work with a wide international audience.”
MEIJBURG ART COMMISSION
Starting point for the Meijburg Art Commission, founded in 2015 as a joint initiative of Unseen and Meijburg & Co: that art is a platform for surprising perspectives that break existing patterns. Between 2015 and 2021, the Meijburg Art Commission was site-specific. Artists who exhibited at Unseen Amsterdam could submit a proposal for a work that was explicitly for the Meijburg collection and offices. Winners were Anouk Kruithof, Elspeth Diederix, Pasi Orrensalo, Hideyuki Ishibashi, Marleen Sleeuwits and Popel Coumou. From the upcoming edition onwards the choice has been made to have artists reflect on a current theme in society. For 2022 this theme is HUMAN CONNECTION. Artists are asked to celebrate, investigate or question the importance, relevance, and diversity of the connection between people. Five artists made it to the shortlist: Mous Lamrabat (Loft Gallery), Katrin Korfmann (Bradwolff & partners), Pixy Liao (Stieglitz19), Rebecca Ann Tess (Philipp von Rosen) and Elliott Verdier (Echo 119). The announcement of the winner will take place during the opening of Unseen on Thursday, September 15. Until the close of the fair, the works of the five nominees will be on display in the Meijburg Lounge in the iconic building de Westerliefde on Amsterdam’s Westergasterrein.
Amsterdam Unseen Amsterdam is the leading international art fair for contemporary photography. Internationally acclaimed for its high curatorial standards and intimate atmosphere, the fair attracts galleries and collectors from all over the world. The next edition will take place from Friday, September 16 to Sunday, September 18, 2022.
Unbound Foundation is an independent extension of Unseen, specifically dedicated to researching the boundaries of the photographic universe. In 2021, Unseen launched the first edition of Unbound with an exhibition of 15 groundbreaking projects selected by Marcel Feil, former artistic director of Foam Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam. For each new edition Unbound chooses a different guest curator. For 2022 this is Damarice Amao from the Centre Pompidou in Paris.
Westergas is an art and culture village where historical values and innovative ideas come together. With its idiosyncratic yet typically Amsterdam character, this unique monumental location in the Westerpark continually surprises its visitors.