6 Oct 2013


If you don't like...

... delicious food, shopping and art events without the prevalence of the stereotypical artsy-fartsy crowd, Amsterdam is probably not your place to be.

Well, I do love the hartelijke grachtenstad. That is why I jumped at the opportunity to visit the photography fair Unseen at Westergasfabriek, an unused gas works built in the 19th century.

In its second year the fair housed 50 galleries and exhibited works from yet relatively unknown as well as some established photographers. At the book market enthusiasts, publishers and other professionals came together to present and discuss the state of independent publishing. Because it was a little to crowded you did not really feel invited to delve among the books. Obviously the market functioned more as a place for networking. However, if you didn't mind the density and gatherings between booths, there was supposedly a lot to discover. In addition visitors had the opportunity to attend talks and interviews or sit down and enjoy a varied selection of film screenings. As participation and large-scale presentations are a sure way to win over visitors, the project Inside Out by JR was definitely a little sensation. Visitors could have their poster size portraits taken, get them printed straight away, add them to the exhibition and in this way become part of it.     

Despite all the great ideas you always have to leave some room for criticism. 
Although I risk sounding like a philistine, I'll just ask bluntly: What was the big deal about the Miss Titus presentation? During her presentation photographer Melina Gibson was surrounded by spectators who were intrigued by the action in front of them and suddenly broke out in applause. Needless to say, I had to make my way through the crowd in order to get a glance at the spectacle. All I saw was the artist folding paper and wrapping a book. Either I just missed an incredible creative outburst or simply didn't get it.             

But that is O.K.. I'd rather keep in memory the grainy and melancholic black-and-white photographs of Anders Petersen (Stieglitz19, Antwerp), David Verbeek's mysterious and somehow alluring photographs shot in night-time Tapei (Galerie Ron Mandos, Amsterdam), Astrid Kruse Jensen's familiar appearing and equally disturbing images (Martin Asbaek Gallery, Copenhagen), and Bien-U Bae's large-scale photographs that transfer the beholder into a state of contemplation (Aando Fine Arts, Berlin), and a number of other works.

Bien-U Bae, 2006