Unseen 2017 : Some Observations

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 4, Sustainable Prospects


figure 1

It was a pleasure to visit Unseen 2017 (fig 1) in Amsterdam in September 2017.

These are my concise observations;


Figure 2

I met with my tutors and fellow students at the Student Hotel, Amsterdam (fig 2).  We set ourselves a photographic project to stretch over 2 days entitled ‘seen;unseen’ to relate to the place and the theme of the expo.

The first port of call was Foam  which is a major influence behind the photo festival. It showed a selection of emerging talent, figures 3 Alix Marie, 4 and 5 Sushant Chhabria.


figure 3

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figures 4, 5

On to Huis Marseille which devoted all 14 of its gallery spaces to Jamie Hawkesworth’s image making, figures 5, 6.  I was pleased to have been able to join the talk and tour led by Hawkesworth.  I questioned the editing, as he described the Preston Bus Station shoot as wholly democratic – hence all people were included and printed at the same scale, but this was defied by the fact that the ‘boy with the afro’ was repeated in a lobby space at a much larger scale.  I also found his nude wok with the model Mica, with whom he had a relationship, as peering into a personal collection which felt awkward and made me question that private should stay private in many collections and bodies of work.

It is interesting attempting to access Hawkesworth’s website – one of the most awkward.


figures 5, 6


figure 7

On to the main Unseen venue, figure 7.  The following images were recorded as they inspired me or provoked me in the context of my practice. All the artists in the main building were represented by galleries.  The majority were based in Europe and I spotted East Wing gallery from Dubai.

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figures 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14

Then onto the Co-op building that provided space for artsists who are collaborating with others and were representing themselves. I was intrigued by a book held within a cast concrete sleeve (figure 15) and the vitrine housing printers uncut copies of the Stephen Keppel book I had purchased, figure 16.  Figure 17 shows the context to this Co-op space.


Figure 15


Figure 16


Figure 17


Note – all web links visited November 2017.


How Many Books is Too Many Books?

MA in Photography, Falmouth University, Module 4, Sustainable Prospects

I experienced two very different photobook browsing moments at Unseen Amsterdam on 30th September.

The first was at a booth within the main space at a gallery in the main space- Matèria Rome  where I was engaged by the gallery owner who explained the work of Stefano Canto, who works with concrete and allied processes and imagery.  I purchased the book Concrete Archive (figure 1) as this will be useful as I expand my thinking about practice ( and reminding myself that I had made a request for concrete to be extracted from an imminently  demolished building in Birmingham).

figures 1, 2

The second experience was a walk around the book tent at Unseen.  The space was very busy and even though one of my favourite book sellers seemed not to be in attendance (Mack Books) there was a huge diversity of sellers and organisations in the tent.  The sheer scale of this event (acknowledging that it is far from being the largest) was overwhelming, despite my determination to purchase something as a momento of Unseen 2017.  Titles that seemed to belie the content, cover images that often tantalised with content to match and sometimes not.  Elbows and wallets to do battle with.  One full perambulation took me back to a stall where I bought a book about Stephen Keppel, called Flat Finish (figure2), which matched my wish to fish out a book that reflected my developing practice.


Canto, S. (2016) Concrete Archive (Rome; Drago)

Keppel, S. (2017) Flat Finish (New York; Fw:Books)