Unseen Amsterdam


From the 23rd to the 25th of September, the Westergasfabriek will play host to Unseen Photo Fair. Here you will find 53 participating galleries from across the globe and more than 75 Unseen Premieres: brand new works that have never been shown at a gallery, institute or fair. Unseen also hosts an exciting variety of onsite activities, including interactive artists’ projects, debates, lectures, award ceremonies and book launches & signings.

Complementing Unseen Photo Fair, Unseen has established an extensive festival programme. A week prior to the opening of Unseen Photo Fair, on the 16th of September, Unseen Photo Festival will take Amsterdam by storm. The festival will bring together an exciting assortment of artists, venues, institutions, project spaces and local initiatives for ten days of first-rate festivities. 

Here’s a taste of five great events not to miss during Unseen 2016: 


(c) Almicheal FraayBrediusbad - The Politics of Sport. © Almicheal Fraay

In the outdoor swimming pool “Brediusbad”, Unseen’s campaign artists Christto & Andrew delve into the intriguing relationship between politics and sport. Their exhibition explores the political motives and the absurd elements behind the organisation of large–scale sports events and simultaneously investigates how power is exerted through a certain aesthetic. 


© Christian-van-der-KooyExhibition - Touched, 2016. © Christian van der Kooy

Curated by renowned Dutch artist Anton Corbijn, TOUCHED – Craftsmanship in Contemporary Photography showcases the works of twelve international photographers. Collectively, these artists explore the growing tendency for craftsmanship and unicity in photography, as a response to the present-day digitalisation and mass production of images. 

With works by:  Dirk Braeckman (BE), Antony Cairns (UK), Gerard Fieret (NL), Adam Jeppesen (GE), Paul Kooiker (NL), Susanna Kraus (GE), Thomas Mailaender (FR), Nerhol (JP), Onorato & Krebs (SE), Miroslav Tichý (CZ) and Daisuke Yokota (JP). 

3. Face to Face/ African Portraiture – OFF the wall x Unseen 

© Louis-Philippe-de-Gagoue
The Feline, 2016. © Fashion studies, Louis Philippe de Gagoue, courtesy of the artist.

Studio portraits are a long-standing tradition within African photographic history. However, Unseen has chosen to look towards the future of African portraiture, focussing on new approaches as they are currently evolving. At Unseen’s very own onsite pop-up studio, both established and emerging artists from the African continent will document visitors of Unseen. Additionally, a digital pop-up exhibition will showcase the works of the participating artists to offer you context in interpreting the artists’ documentations. 

With: Atong Atem (SS), Delphine Diallo (SN/FR), Laila Hida (MA), Lebohang Kganye (ZA), Louis Philippe de Gagoue (CI), Pierre–Christope Gam (FR) and Zanele Muholi (ZA). 

4. The Future of the Photographic Portrait

© Zanele-Muholi
Thembekile, Parktown, from the series Somnyama Ngonyama, 2015. © Zanele Muholi, Courtesy of Stevenson

A photographic portrait is often considered the most traditional way of representing an individual and capturing their identity. However, this understanding of classical portraiture is increasingly challenged by new digital mechanisms. In the relaxed, informal atmosphere of the Unseen Living Room, you can enjoy an intimate discussion with three artists, on the future of the traditional portrait. 

With: Zanele Muholi (ZA), Tobias Zielony (DE) and Jan Hoek (NL) and moderated by Frits Gierstberg (NL). 

5. Artist Recipes

©MLZ Art Dep
Efficacy Testing Stream, 2015. © Inkjet print on transparent paper pictorico, Discipula, Courtesy of MLZ Art Dep

For three special evenings during Unseen, the nomadic restaurant Hembrug & Zaandammer will transform into an artist’s studio, where artists will prepare their recipe of choice connected to their bodies of work. Enjoy an enriching combination of art and cooking as you feast on a meal and listen to artists discuss their latest works. 

With: Emeka Okereke, from the collective Invisible Borders (NG) on Friday, the collective Discipula (UK) on Saturday and Issa Touma (SY) on Sunday. 

First Image - The Swimmer, 2016. © Christto & Andrew

— Emilia van Lynden & Rachel Baas