This year’s edition of Unseen Amsterdam is undoubtedly the best I have visited in the past three years. The fair seems better organized, the participating galleries are more international and more works caught my eye.
In my journey through this year’s edition, I especially enjoyed Femke Dekkers’ illusive ,Stages’, András Ladocsi and Kata Geibl’s sober photography, Anna Reivilä’s philosophical land art photos, Alice Mann’s photo essay ,Drummies’, Benedicte Kurzen’s striking investigative photography and Vasantha Yogananthan’s Indian landscape fictions.
Right by the entrance at Ronmandos Gallery (NL), Isaac Julien’s unexpected photographic work grabbed my attention. Based on his early film ,Encore II: Radioactive’ (2004), these photographic collages depict the story of a solitary cyborg heroine. They explore hybridity both in terms of theme and technique.
In ,Stages’, Femke Dekkers at Galerie Bart (NL) uses real walls and floors as canvas and departing point for her photographs. Dekkers dilutes the three-dimensional physical space into two-dimensional pictorial-looking representations that hardly give away its architectonic origins. This makeshift is an artful play between mediums and dimensionalities.
At Bildhalle (CH), the duo Albarrán Cabrera presents photographic works inspired by their extensive travels in Japan. The country’s poetic, sensual and cultural sensibility unfolds in these works in terms of subject matter, materiality and inventive printing techniques. Such techniques range from classic printing methods such as platinum and silver halide, to new ones such as pigment prints on golden leaves.
At Meyohas (US), Irish-born US-based artist Eva O’Leary portraits the polarized social norms, roles and community life of her college town Happy Valley. She is winner of the Outset Unseen Exhibition Fund (2018).
Devoid of people, Marco Barbon’s nostalgic landscapes at Galerie Clementine de La Feronniere (FR) have a painterly, almost dream-like quality. Presented at Kopeikin Gallery (US), Katrin Korfmann’s aerial views of public spaces result in interesting-looking spatial arrangements that highlight both formal and temporal aspects.
There is something authentic and classic in the way András Ladocsi and Kata Geibl at Supermarket Gallery (HU), pick and portrait their motives. The sobriety and poetry of their work subtly reveals the socio-political context both artists stem from.
Beautifully framed, the works of Finish artist Anna Reivilä at Purdue Hicks Gallery (UK) explore her native landscape in what is a modern take on land art. Inspired by traditional Japanese bondage tradition, Reivilä ties trees and rocks and her photos achieve a meditative quality. At the same gallery, Portuguese artist Edgar Martins produces abstracted photography made from written letters by Birmingham innates and their families, as part of the 2018 Koestler Awards program.
At Red Hook Labs (US), Alice Mann presents Drummies. This photo essay is based on her home country longstanding tradition of teenage drum majorettes. This activity has developed to become a competitive sport that is part of many South African schools. It is helping girls gain confidence, discipline and to feel part of a supportive community.
Singularly striking for its compositions and colours, Benedicte Kurzen’s work at TJ Boulting (UK) is much more than meets the eye. Stemming from a photo-journalism background, Kurzen’s photos investigate the political, economic and cultural realities surrounding Lake Chad Basin in Nigeria. A master visual storyteller, her research tells an important story of resource depletion, climate change, ethnical religious conflicts and the attack on civilians by Bokum Haram.
Reflecting on personal loss and mourning, Jesse Fairbrother’s delicate photos display the artist’s naked body pierced by needles. Its vulnerability and ornamented patterns is beautiful. Also at The Photographers’ Gallery (UK), Vasantha Yogananthan’s fictional landscapes of India show a distinctive colour palette and technique. These hand-painted staged photographs are simultaneously inspired by epic tales and everyday life.
At Fotogalleri Vasli Souza (SE), Pixy Liao’s ,Experimental Relationship’ series is a humoristic and absurd take on modern coupledom.
Chosen to create a body of work for Unseen Amsterdam, digital artist Kenta Cobayashi presents at G/P Tokyo (JP) vibrant imaginary works of futuristic cities that are as memorable as they are overwhelming.
Congratulations to Unseen Amsterdam for a terrific 2018 edition!