What struck a chord? What stood out from the crowd? What lingers on in memory as the year draws to a close?
Unseen Amsterdam is a place for visitors of all descriptions to make new photographic discoveries. From surprising titles at the Unseen Book Market to compelling new work, ‘Unseen Impressions’ sees a range of industry professionals reflect on the unexpected gems of their own recent visit.
Jonny Briggs, represented by mc2gallery
Hunters Point by Scarlett Hooft Graafland at Flowers Gallery stopped me in my tracks. An infectious smile from the crocodile (or is it an alligator?!). I found it humorous, dangerous and provocative. What if the couple walks to the top and topples the precariously placed ladder? What if one were to decide to break from the other? What happened after the photograph was taken? It exploits the frustration of the still image. I’m reminded of that time in childhood when we start to learn the dangerous consequences of freely pursuing our desires. Scarlett was sculpture trained and often throws subject and context in her performative works. I saw these human figures, out of civilisation and into the wild, and through this, I re-see the wild within myself.
Arko Datto, represented by East Wing Gallery
Being my first year exhibiting at Unseen Amsterdam and European photography festivals in general, it was an incredible experience to be part of. Much of my time at the Fair was spent shuttling between East Wing Gallery, where my work was being exhibited, and L'Artiere bookstand, where my book was being launched, but I did have a bit of time to drop by the Living Room and the other galleries as well.
I was very moved by the work of Albarran Cabrera who were showing their work with BILDHALLE. It was also inspiring to meet Rafal Milach at JEDNOSTKA Gallery. I was super impressed by the ease and fluidity with which I was able to meet so many professionals from the photography world, people whose work I had hitherto only appreciated from afar and with the support from the Unseen team.
Image: #222, from the series The Mouth of Krishna, 2018 © Albarrán Cabrera/BILDHALLE
280A, artist collective and participant in the CO-OP
Taking part in the CO-OP this year was an intense experience, one that naturally obliged us to focus on this specific section of Unseen Amsterdam. Looking back at the dozen collectives brought together under the same roof, the CO-OP felt challenging and heterogeneous in reach. That said, outside of this space the diversity of practices on show continued at the Fair, at which we would highlight the consistency of the G/P Gallery which once again provided a stimulating overview of contemporary Japanese photographers. The selection of ten artists from Futures Photography in association with the finalists of the ING Unseen Talent Award was, for us, a highlight of this year’s programme, and for a simple reason. Both the Talent Award and the Futures platform work toward bringing to prominence talents that have been under the radar, or are simply starting out, deeply resonating with the event’s DNA.
Pixy Liao, represented by Fotogalleri Vasli Souza and participant in the Living Room
Unseen Amsterdam made it possible for me to meet and befriend my photo idol Elina Brotherus, a photographer who has influenced me so much from the beginning of my photography career. Seeing her new work at the fair and later, meeting her in person. She was kind enough to go to my Living Room presentation and we exchanged our photobooks. I can’t tell you how happy I was!
Image: Elina Brotherus in the Living Room, Unseen Amsterdam, 2018 © Maarten Nauw
Header image: Hunter's Point, USA, 2005 © Scarlett Hooft Graafland/Flowers Gallery