Founded in 2012 by Foam Fotografiemuseum, creative agency Vandejong and arts organisation Platform A, Unseen has quickly gained a reputation for a cutting-edge approach to lens-based media. As an umbrella organisation, it encompasses an online platform, a bi-annual magazine, a programme of collaborative events, an independent charity, and, perhaps most importantly, an annual fair in Amsterdam accompanied by exhibitions at renowned institutions such as Stedelijk Museum, Huis Marseille and Melkweg.
The fair, titled Unseen Amsterdam, returns for its eighth edition, highlighting the latest developments at the forefront of contemporary photography. It brings together 300 emerging and established artists from 53 galleries to present boundary-pushing work from the last three years. As Artistic Director Marina Paulenka notes in Issue 90 of Aesthetica: “Photography is changing all the time, and we discuss its boundaries on a practical, technical, but also philosophical level. Unseen sheds light on artworks backed by deep research and concepts, experimenting with the medium and flirting with different techniques, including installation, video, sound and performance.”
The programme celebrates artists from around the world, with new galleries for 2019 representing India, Singapore, Ghana and Argentina. “Different countries bring new issues and concerns of which we must make ourselves aware,” Paulenka continues. “That is the beauty of diversity in artistic approaches – sharing ideas.” The wide selection of topics ranges from migration and post-colonialism to feminism, religion, climate change and virtual reality – all pertinent topics for today.
Highlights include images by Gohar Dashti (b. 1980), which combine an interest in anthropology and sociology; self-portraits by Izumi Miyazaki (b. 1994); Lorenzo Vitturi’s colourful meditations on changing urban environments and Pixy Liao’s (b. 1979) intriguing reflections on domesticity. Scarlett Hooft Graaland’s (b. 1973) surreal landscapes reflect on community and tradition, whilst Todd Hido (b. 1968) navigates the anonymity of suburbia. Abstract works by Inka & Niclas, Andrea Gruetzner and Mari-Leen Kiipli and are explored in the latest issue of Aesthetica.
Ultimately, Unseen’s diverse programme holds up a mirror to a world in flux, demonstrating Paulenka’s belief “in the critical potential of artistic production, and that art not only reflects the society in which we live but can stimulate contemplation, critical knowledge and positive changes.”
20-22 September. Find out more here.
Lead image: Pink Lady, 2015. Scarlett Hooft Graaland / Flowers Gallery.