Unseen was developed out of a sincere enthusiasm for contemporary photography. Even though the world of contemporary photography was developing at lightning pace, very little of it was on show at photography fairs at the time. There wasn’t much room for newcomers or for pioneering works by well-known names with a history of selling. Aside from that, the majority of art fairs were costly, creating a gap between affluent collectors and (younger) first time buyers. We wanted to change that, to challenge the art world and give new photography the platform it deserves.
Unseen was initiated by Vandejong, Foam and Platform A, in an effort to create a meeting place for young photographic talent, for established artists with new works to show, for galleries with a focus on progressive topics, and for an audience interested in discovering unknown and ground-breaking work. Hence the name: Unseen. We focused on everything that was ‘emerging’ in the world of photography and couldn’t be found at any other photography event: work that challenged assumptions, adventurous artists, and enthusiasts who embraced unconventional approaches and topics.
Since the start, Unseen has been about presenting the latest developments in contemporary photography and amplifying the careers of boundary-pushing artists. It connected ‘the new’ with ‘the established’ and ‘the established’ with ‘the new’, thus serving as a stepping stone for talented photographers looking for a larger audience, and a source of inspiration for international collectors and photography fans. Over the years it remained a channel that promised new discoveries with every visit, serving as an indispensable resource for the growing contemporary photography community.
Since the start, Unseen has been about presenting the latest developments in contemporary photography and amplifying the careers of boundary-pushing artists.
It all started with a yearly event in the Amsterdam Westergas, welcoming around 50 galleries from across the world, 70 independent publishers and 300+ international artists. Later, the event introduced talent development programmes, interactive on-site happenings, an extensive city programme, new marketplaces, and exhibitions attended by 25,000 visitors. In just seven years, Unseen grew into a year-round platform aiming to provide novel and experimental approaches with which to engage with photography through a variety of formats. These included a bi-annual print magazine, distributed to 16 countries with a run of 20K copies; an international events programme with launches in Moscow, Hamburg, Beijing, Paris and London; a digital content platform premiering new photography projects and providing in-depth background information; and an online shop with collectible artworks.
What counts most, however, is Unseen’s community. At the heart of Unseen is its extensive and ever-growing international network of artists, students, influential professionals, collectors and art enthusiasts, working inside and outside of the contemporary photography field, passionate about the platform and all its components.