Seen at UNSEEN

Photography Director Gem Fletcher selects her highlights from the UNSEEN Photo Festival in Amsterdam


The UNSEEN Festival, now in its fifth year, showcases work by over 150 artists created in the last three years. UNSEEN has quickly become the go-to festival for contemporary photography and discovering emerging talent. The festival gives attendees a unique insight into the visionary and experimental work that aims to shape the future of the medium.

With events happening all around Amsterdam, including talks, screenings, exhibitions and live events. Here are some of the highlights.

Juno Calypso - Eternal Beauty
Juno Calypso – Eternal Beauty


UNSEEN Photo Fair

Much of the energy at the fair centers around UNSEEN Premieres. Showcasing work by over 70 artists, which have never been exhibited before in a gallery or art fair. This gives attendees the chance to engage with visionary new work from both emerging and established talent. My personal highlights included new work by Viviane Sassen, Juno Calpyso and Lana Mesic.


Viviane Sassen – Finfinne
Viviane Sassen – Finfinne
Lana Mesic – Tower 1
Lana Mesic – Tower 1
Christto & Andrew: The Politics of Sport
Christto & Andrew: The Politics of Sport

The Politics of Sport by Christto & Andrew

The Brediusbad, an outdoor swimming pool in the centre of the Spaarndammerbuurt neighborhood is home to a site-specific exhibition by photography duo Christto and Andrew.

The Politics of Sport focuses on absurdities of the sports industry, specifically the tension between the ethics of sports and how the world of sport has become something countries and brands exploit to assert power and influence.

Christto & Andrew: The Politics of Sport
Christto & Andrew: The Politics of Sport


Zanele Muholi - Somnyama Ngonyama
Zanele Muholi – Somnyama Ngonyama

 Face to Face

Face to Face, co-curated by Off the wall magazine and UNSEEN, is a pop-up studio and exhibition celebrating African Portraiture where visitors can have their portraits taken by one of seven artists including Zanele Muholi, Laila Hida and Delphine Diallo. The studio serves as a space of representation exploring the image and identity of its subjects, as well as referencing the long-standing tradition of studio portraits within African photographic history.

Thomas Albdorf – I Made This For You
Thomas Albdorf – I Made This For You

 The ING Unseen Talent Award

This award provides an international platform for emerging European photographic talent. This years theme was Fool for Love and each artist approached it from completely different angles ranging from the foolish side of adolescence, to the love we have for our urban surroundings. Work by all five finalists Thomas Albdorf, Felicity Hammond, Laurianne Bixhain, Miren Pastor, and Tereza Zelenkova is on show at the festival.

Thomas Albdorf won with his work, I made this for you, explained in the video below.

Ai Weiwei - #SafePassage
Ai Weiwei – #SafePassage

Al Weiwei -#SafePassage

The festival brings together an exciting assortment of project spaces and institutions across the city. A highlight is Al Weiwei’s exhibition #SafePassage at Foam. The exhibition examines the fate of the individual versus systems of governance. Switching between Weiwei’s personal experiences as a refugee of the Chinese Government, to the thousands of refugees risking their lives to cross borders to Europe only to find their path barred. The work is a powerful and intimate insight into this humanitarian crisis.

After visiting a refugee camp in Lesbos in December 2015, Weiwei travelled to camps around the Mediterranean in Syria, Turkey, Israel, France and Italy. During the trips he shot thousands of iPhone photographs that illustrate personal encounters with the individuals he met. These images make up ‘Lifeline’, an immersive installation that acts as a powerful monument to the deep tragedy of this ongoing crisis.

Ai Weiwei - #SafePassage
Ai Weiwei – #SafePassage

The UNSEEN Photo Fair and Festival run until September 25.


Watch out for Gemma Fletcher’s takeover of CR’s Instagram account @creativereview this weekend where she will be posting further highlights from UNSEEN

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