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Design Bridge Visits: Unseen Photo Fair 2015

Last month Unseen, the annual celebration of new photography, returned to Amsterdam. Brendan Conn, Senior Designer in our Amsterdam studio, was so excited after his visit to the fair that we asked him to share his experience and what inspired him. Here’s Brendan:

Housed in the striking Westergasfabriek, a former gasworks site dating back to 1885, Unseen Photo Fair showcases the most recent movements in contemporary photography, with 54 international galleries presenting emerging talent and unseen work by established artists.

And what a treat it is. From torn Vogue magazines and delightful depictions of Elvis Presley impersonators, to vacuum-wrapped people, this collection is a feast for photography lovers: the familiar, the unknown, the weird, the wonderful.

My personal highlight was to be found in the Unseen Lounge: a stunning portrait of Reagan, a Ugandan boy. Photographed by Linelle Deunk, beautiful contrasting light and dark tones draw the viewer into Reagan’s story. This particular photograph is one of a series born out of a greater purpose – to raise awareness for access to clean drinking water worldwide. Commissioned by Marie-Stella-Maris, (an Amsterdam-based lifestyle brand), in partnership with GUP Magazine, talented photographers were engaged to shoot autonomous work, whilst visiting one of the drinking water projects supported by the Marie-Stella-Maris Foundation. Find out more here.

Reagan, Linelle Deunk, 2014. marie-stella-maris.com

Reagan, Linelle Deunk, 2014. marie-stella-maris.com

A dream-like artwork displaying a black cloud floating above an idyllic beach, Yet Untitled, 2015, by Inka Lindergård and Niclas Holmström, prompted an informative conversation with a representative of the Grundemark Nilsson Gallery in Berlin, who exhibited Inka & Niclas’ work at Unseen. “Together Inka & Niclas travel and seek places to continue their practice of creating a different representation of nature, using the photographic image to capture and create their landscapes, altering the landscape with slight interventions, according to their own very personal visual concepts.”

Unseen Photo fair #2

I also enjoyed viewing the work of German photographer Stefan Heyne, whose images are taken from the view point of airplane seats and create stunning, abstract high definition spectrums of colour that play with light and have no indication of form.

SEAT 17F, 2014. Stefan Heyne. Unseen Press Images.

SEAT 17F, 2014.
Stefan Heyne.
Unseen Press Images.

Industrial #26, 2015. Michael Wolf. Courtesy of Galerie Wouter van Leeuwen

Industrial #26, 2015.
Michael Wolf. Courtesy of Galerie Wouter van Leeuwen

Other favourites included the beautiful representations of the world around us by Michael Wolf and Katrin Korfmann. A first prize award winner in the World Press Photo Award Competition in 2005 and 2010, Michael Wolf’s images of Hong Kong curiously depict city life through shape, form, objects and repetitive expanses of pattern. Katrin Korfmann, a graduate of the Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam, explores concepts of time, framing, and the social dimensions of perception – the relationship between the observer and the observed. Perspective is challenged through a bird’s-eye view. HL 11 captures children running and jumping, with dark elongated shadows dominating against a sea of playground-green. Your eyes playfully pinball around the composition from one figure to the next.

Tsuyoshi, Unseen Press Images

HL 11. Katrin Korfmann

HL 11. Katrin Korfmann. Unseen Press Images.

Of course, no exhibition visit would be complete without a visit to the shop. Through the Festival Heart, past the ‘Emergency Coffee’ van, the tempting ‘Frittes Met Mayo’ and the hustle and bustle of a creative fair, lay an amazing book market – a print and production dream. A tactile field of experimental formats, foils, embossing, debossing and beautiful binding; enough to blow your ‘inspirational books’ budget in one afternoon! Katrin Korfmann’s works, still strong in my mind, were presented in the wonderful book, Ensembles assembled; in full colour, with crafted French folds and vibrant colour juxtaposed with white space.

With a phone full of ‘pics for Instagram’ and a ‘books to buy list’ as long as the Amsterdam canals, I had seen Unseen and was left truly inspired.

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