First, we present the latest galleries on our very long list, followed by an introduction to some of the UNBOUND! projects.
TOBE Gallery Budapest – Akos Major (1974 Hungary) (images 78)
Ákos Major has long photographed anthropocene urban landscapes, an act that for him is both an act of relaxation and a means to an end. His work can be labelled by many different adjectives, but his minimalist, inhuman urban photographs are clearly associated with the New Topographics that originated in America. The monochrome tones, and the landscape portraits with their contemplative attitude, are themselves evocative of the state of mind in which they were taken: meditative, serene images, whether they were taken in Dubai, California or Lake Balaton.
The images from Dad’s walks series were taken in and around Paks, at locations that recall childhood memories, and which remain to play a significant role in the artist’s personal life as well. Being someone who remembers his childhood years as happy and well-balanced, the artist attaches meanings of safety and serenity to these places – to the places to which he can still return to. Importantly though, he makes sure not to aestheticize the landscape: an outside, a lay observer should not perceive more than a once lively industrial environment that somehow exudes senses of peacefulness and melancholy. The anthropomorphic houses and the dried flowers which were collected on long walks evoke childlike perspectives and games, but also the image of a floodplain that occasionally even adults enjoy wading across or wallowing in.
All memories continue to live on in those places, and yet they also reflect the black and white minimalism of adulthood. Covered in pigeon grey instead of a pink haze, Ákos Major invites us all to this extremely intimate setting; to the scenery of his childhood.
TOBE Gallery Budapest – Almudena Romero (1984 Spain/UK) (images 79)
Almudena Romero’s practice uses photographic processes to reflect on issues relating to identity, representation and ideology. Romero’s works focus on how perception affects existence and how photography contributes to organising perception.
Romero’s practice has been exhibited at international public institutions and international festivals such as the Victoria and Albert Museum (UK), National Portrait Gallery (UK), TATE Modern-TATE Exchange (UK) The Photographers’ Gallery (UK), Tsinghua Art Museum (CH), Le Cent-Quatre Paris (FR)…
Studies On My Grandma’s Garden series of photographic artworks are the result of Almudena’s years-long research on photographic processes naturally occurring in leaves and flowers such as photobleaching and photosynthesis. These plant-photographs fossilised in bio-resin refer to an aesthetic of fragility and disappearance that explores the intangible legacy of Almudena’s grandmother on her but also the use of photographic art for self-expression rather than for documentation and archiving purposes. The artworks explore questions on production and legacy, which are central to the current environmental crisis, as well as central to the art industry
Studies On My Grandma’s Garden photographic prints are made by the bleaching action of sunlight on the chlorophyll pigments of a plant leaf. The pigments are bleached to various degrees rendering a photographic print on a monochrome green-scale. The process doesn’t require any additional chemistry or inks. These leaf prints depict images of Almudena’s hand gestures while producing artwork. Each leaf’s unique chemistry renders a print with different tonalities and contrast, making the image printed on the leaf sometimes more visible and other times more imperceptible, as such is the often invisible feminine labour that goes into growing families and gardens.
TOBE Gallery Budapest – Dafna Talmor (Israel/UK 1974) (images 80)
Dafna Talmor is an artist and lecturer based in London whose practice encompasses photography, spatial interventions, curation and collaborations. Her photographs are included in public collections such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, Deutsche Bank, Hiscox and in private collections internationally. .
An investigation into representations of landscape, Constructed Landscapes is a project I’ve been developing for over ten years; Consisting of three sub-series, the work stemmed from my personal archive of photographs initially shot as mere keepsakes across different locations that include Venezuela, Israel, the US and UK. Produced by collaging medium format colour negatives, the process relies on experimentation in the colour darkroom. Transformed through the act of slicing and splicing, the resulting images are staged landscapes, a conflation combining the ‘real’ and the imaginary. Through this work, specific places initially loaded with personal meaning and political connotations, are reconfigured into a space of greater universality. Blurring place, memory and time – defying specificity and referring to the transient – the work alludes to idealised and utopian spaces.
In Constructed Landscapes, condensing multiple time frames by collaging negatives to construct an image transfers the notion of the ‘decisive moment’ from the photographic act to the act of assembling and printing in the darkroom. In turn, fragments of varying source images collide and collude to create an illusory landscape; gaps and voids where negatives fail to meet or overlap mimic (and form new) elements of landscape, disrupting composition and distorting perspective. In dialogue with the history of photography, Constructed Landscapes references Pictorialist processes of combination printing as well as Modernist experiments with the materiality of film. Whilst distinctly holding historical references, the work engages with contemporary discourse on manipulation and the analogue/digital divide. Beyond photographs, the work has expanded to include site specific vinyl wallpapers, spatial interventions, photograms, studies and publications.
Bródy Sándor u. 36.
Tommy Simoens (Gallery) Antwerp – Aneta Bartos (1982 Poland) (images 81)
Since 2013 Bartos has been traveling back to her hometown Tomaszów Mazowiecki, where she was raised by her father as a single parent from the age of eight until sixteen. Then 68 years old, and having spent a lifetime as a competitive body builder, Bartos’ father asked her to take a few shots documenting his physique before it degenerated and inevitably ran its course. The original request of her father inspired Bartos to transform his idea into a long-term project titled Dad. A few summers later Dad developed into a new series of portraits, titled Family Portrait, exploring the complex dynamics between father and daughter.
“Even though I grew up in a Catholic society that made you feel shameful about your body and associated baring it with sex and perversion, my parents shared a different way of thinking about the human form. In our house, my dad was always lounging around in his tiny speedos while my mom, during my early years, was tanning topless in the garden. As a little girl, I would spend hours around shirtless boys working out at my father’s gym and I would travel with my dad for bodybuilding competitions. I even began taking part in them at age thirteen. This free and beautiful attitude toward the body, was just an everyday way of living in my household.” “In deciding to shoot Family Portrait’s third and last chapter this past summer, the series became a pursuit of reflection, slowing down and trying to reach the storage point of our primordial memories.”
About Family Portrait, the NY based art-critic Jerry Saltz has written: “Where does the photograph’s power emanate from? The dreamy atmosphere is only a foyer to the effect. I think Bartos’s intense awareness of her own sexuality is part of it — how she’s stripped down for these pictures. At the same time, her father is as intense, but about his own narcissistic obsession — his cartoon idea of masculinity. He’s so deep in it that it renders his daughter invisible to him. They both pose for us but pretend not to be aware of the other, displaying a kind of nonsexual sexuality? Or vice versa. And where is the mother here? We stranger-voyeurs are the reason for the picture. (Or are we their internal scenario’s pretext?) Bartos sees everything, though; she looks at us with a knowing gaze that strips away our defenses, makes us confront her love, hate, perversion, helplessness, desire, manipulation, and pain at being this naked and somehow invisible. I cringe, confront a black mirror of hyper-daddy issues or missing-mommy issues and my own American sexuality of never having seen my parents naked. Which side of that line are you on?” Aneta Bartos was born in Poland and moved to New York City where she attended The School of Visual Arts. Since early 2013 she has exhibited internationally
2000 Antwerp BE
TORCH Gallery Amsterdam – Popel Coumou (1978 The Netherlands) (images 82)
At Unseen 2023, TORCH shows a solo presentation of Popel Coumou, featuring new photography-based artworks that were created for the fair.
Slight shadows cast by layers of paper, suggestions of space and missing visual information keep you guessing. The simplest physical constructions – handmade collages and miniatures – are transformed into intriguing, dreamlike images that compel the viewer to question what they see. Using only paper and light, Popel Coumou creates a sense of being suspended in space and time. She questions our perception of space and explores the way our minds work; how little information we need in order to fill in the blanks and create our own realities.
A photograph is conventionally regarded as an end product, but for Popel, it can also be a starting point. The layers out of which she builds her latest interiors are images of skies. These cause natural colour gradients and create an illusion of depth, while the texture in the paper itself is clearly visible. With the collages made up of these sheets of paper, she dissects the very idea that an image should represent reality. The honesty in her deliberately imperfect artworks allows the viewer to see beyond their inherent nature and appreciate where the forms take you.
Over the last 15 years, Popel’s body of work has followed a steady trajectory, where every next step makes sense in her development yet surprises everyone who follows her. To further diffuse the borders between reality and fiction, figuration and abstraction, Popel doesn’t always present a photograph as the artwork anymore. Some pieces turn out to be original, unique collages. In her relief works, she even breaks through the flat surface and penetrates the third dimension. Tirelessly experimenting to find new forms of expression, she keeps lifting the medium of photography to unforeseen and exhilarating heights.
1016 RN Amsterdam
V/MSP GALLERY Brussels – Edgar Leciejewski (1977 Germany)(images 83)
Since 2001, Leciejewski’s artistic work explores the various social and scientific uses of photography. It is an attempt at experimental analysis aimed at extracting from the photographic medium the issues that are relevant to the times. In addition to the basic themes and the reflection on his own working methods and tools, he is interested in integrating the dimension of time into photographic work. His works are memories or reserves of time that allow us to slow down the act of seeing and experiencing.
Two series will be shown at UNSEEN: A Scene in a Library which assumes that a view of a library is at the same time a view of its owner’s most intimate thoughts.
In the second series LiQUID SKy, the artist moves on the border of photography: he combines materials and images and rearranges them into an artistic exercise rooted in philosophical reflections artistic experimentation.
V/MSP GALLERY Brussels – Lieven Lefere (1978 Belgium) (images 84)
Lieven Lefere is an artist who plays with the complex relationship between reality and the photographic image. Lefere is extremely meticulous in his work and his process is remarkably slow. With great care, he manipulates all the parameters that make a photograph what it is. His process often starts months before the picture is taken. The first step is to conduct extensive research, drawing on myriad points of reference. Sometimes he builds his own sets and scenery based either on his research or on his memories. He constructs his images with a certain scale and framing in mind, models the space, makes maquettes, decides how he wants the light to fall on the scene. After shooting, if the sets are not incorporated into the artwork as a spatial element, then they are either destroyed or put into storage.
At Unseen he presents 2 series of images. The first series: Shadow is a hole. Since 2012, Lefere has been working with forensic scientist Martin Smith from Bournemouth University. Most recently, Lefere has been working on the excavation of a collapsed Neolithic burial mound near Cirencester, which has inspired him to map specific Neolithic sites in the UK. The series questions our relationship to our past and how archaeology can have a lasting impact on the development of our thinking today.
And the second: Des Ombres et miroirs: Based on the doctoral research of architect Patrick Seurinck, he reconstructed the space that is depicted in Jan van Eyck’s Virgin and Child with Canon van der Paele (1436). The resulting photo evokes a sense of both familiarity and alienation in the viewer. The omission of the characters from the famous painting allows a new reading of the image, while its large scale gives the photo a certain monumentality.
Versus Art Project Istanbul – Metehan Özcan (1975 Turkey) (Images 85)
Metehan Özcan received his BA degree in Interior Design from Bilkent University and MFA degree in Visual Communication Design from Bilgi University. Currently, he is doing Proficiency in Art and Design Programme. Questioning the existence and representation of modernist space in his works, Özcan also considers the alienation of people with their environment as well as the connection between collective and individual memory and identity. He examines the existing relationship between space and subject, the state of a space in which there is no subject, and the extent to which these two concepts can be separated, through a practice of collage which uses found materials, archives, and his original photographs. Özcan works as a part-time lecturer at various universities and lives in İstanbul.
ABOUT DEKOR AND ENCOUNTER SERIES – His series Dekor is based on the “image-ability of the built environment” a criterion Kevin Lynch discussed in his book titled The Image of the City which was published in 1960. The artist considers the following sentences in the book as the preparatory point of the series: ‘At every instant, there is more than the eye can see, more than the ear can hear, a setting or a view waiting to be explored. Nothing is experienced by itself, but always in relation to its surroundings, the sequences of events leading up to it, the memory of past experiences.’
Building upon his previous works of abandoned buildings where the lines between interior-exterior get blurred because of their uninhabited nature, Özcan’s Dekor series creates connections between these architectural spaces and the city. Through his collage arrangements, which consist of the materials collected from public and private archives, alongside the photographs taken by Özcan, he analyzes different layers of identity and reality that that contain clues about how city life has been designed in the recent past and what other realities it occupied.
In his latest series titled, Encounter, Metehan Özcan delves deeper into the exploration of collective memory and intricate layers of identity. Özcan’s earlier fascination with blurring the lines between fiction and reality, a technique exemplified in his collages and his tendency to withhold information from the viewer, thereby cultivating ambiguity surrounding “the reality of the image,” finds a parallel in the realm of AI processes. Here, new images are born from the foundation of preexisting ones, and the distinction between whether these source images were fictional or authentic remains elusive, giving rise to an intriguing alternative truth.
Versus Art Project Istanbul – Selim Süme (1978 Turkey) (Images 86)
Artist and educator Selim Süme focuses on the image as a question. Some of Süme’s research has centered on areas such as subjective documentary storytelling and examination of the representativeness of the image. His current work focuses on the fragility of the relationship between the image and reality, through which the concept of the image is called into question. Süme is currently living and working in Istanbul and in Vienna.
ABOUT TRANSIT SERIES- Süme puts the everyday and the ordinary at the center with his photography works in his series, Transit. Oscillating in the opaque space between coincidence and fiction, the series explores the aestheticization and (or) dramatization of the everyday and a departure from philosophical questions around representation. Pointing out that taking a photograph is also not taking / showing something / leaving it out of the frame, Süme focuses on the subjects that he has given up on looking at for a long time. He uses a point-and-shoot camera, which marks a return to the production technique he used when he was beginning to work on lens-oriented works 25 years ago. Trying to take advantage of the possibilities of a compact film machine, the series attempts to establish a language in pursuit of the raw, sincere, and simple, under the influence of poet Ahmet Güntan’s “Particle Ham” manifesto. With his photographs, he deals with the practice of keeping a diary and tries to present them with subtlety, “without blinding the viewer,” in his own words.
Versus Art Project
Gazeteci Erol Dernek Sk. 11
34433 Beyoğlu, Istanbul
UNSEEN 2023 – Part 7.2 UNBOUND (images 87-92)
The theme of this year’s Unbound exhibition, the curated section of the fair dedicated to exploring the outer edges of the photographic medium on a monumental scale, is Suspended Matter; an ecological term for small particles adrift in either air or water. The theme is symbolic for a sense of powerlessness we can experience as individuals, when confronted with vast forces that move us through our environments, either natural or constructed.
UNBOUND – AKMAR (1976 The Netherlands) (images 87)
VANITAS Video installation with 48 led screens –
Impossible bouquets: with progress comes impermanence, this is what Vanitas is about.
A video installation that shapes the transience in computer technology. The work refers to 17th century flower still lifes in which flowers bloom at the same time, which they in reality never do. Artist AKMAR collected ready-to-use 3D models of flowers, flowers picked up from different libraries of different software programs developed over time. But no longer run-on current hardware. Through this artwork she wants to give an insight into the power and impotence of ICT, technology related to wealth and transience in our current world that is so determined by Information and Communication Technology.
Fascinated by the fact that software becomes obsolete so quickly or is it just that hardware is updated so quickly? In physical libraries we try to conserve knowledge (books) so that we can still learn from it. In the digital world, many virtual libraries (that are part of software packages) are disappearing because these packages simply can no longer be opened due to the development of hardware. The constant stream of updates and new materials is becoming more and more expensive. Technology allied to wealth and impermanence.
Here too there is a resemblance to the flower still lifes from the 17th century; wealthy painters could afford to spend a year on their flower still lifes. Had the time to wait for the flower to bloom and the money to buy, for example, the very expensive tulips at the time. Poorer painters had to get their knowledge from botanical books.
The physical installation is 6 by 3 meters and consists of 48 screens. On it, digital 3D models of flowers spin gracefully in circles. The big difference with the Seventeenth century: the flowers do not depend on the seasons, but on different types of software that have been used for this in recent decades, such as Plant Studio, Google Sketchup, Maya, 3DS-max, the popular computer game Minecraft or Cinema 4D. The notion of Time is also introduced with the introduction of used screens: old, slightly yellowed models from a German office building. Their position in relation to the window determined the way they are now discoloured. The longer the screens were in the sun before, the more yellow they now look. The passage of time is stored in both the digital and physical material.
Amsterdam – The Netherlands
UNBOUND – Awoiska van der Molen (1972 The Netherlands) (images 88)
The ‘Prélude’ is an outdoor presentation during Unseen Fair, part of ‘Unbound’ On an enclosed path next to the Gashouder, Awoiska van der Molen is showing a number of nature works on glass plates. The location is a haven of quietness next to the bustling activity on the fair ground. The glass plates have no frames, so they blend in with the surroundings, Van der Molen always works in untouched nature, far from the modern world, and developed this unique form of presentation over the past few years. The theme of this year’s edition of Unbound, the section of Unseen that focuses on multidisciplinary photography, is nature. So, an outdoor presentation is an obvious choice.
The wall of the Gashouder and the numerous tall trees provide shelter and combined with the light, it’s an idyllic place. I selected images from different parts of the world with an exotic and romantic character. I don’t mean the latter in the sweet sense of the word, but as the sublime, the painful
The title The Prelude refers to a megalomaniac poem, or rather a verse, by Romantic poet William Wordsworth. During the rise of the Industrial Revolution, which he criticized, he writes about the importance of nature. It was groundbreaking at that time to state that health of human society depends on a healthy relationship with the environment.
The idea to use glass plates gradually came about while I was photographing. From the very beginning, I associated the area with the Witte Wieven (the spirits of “wise women” in Dutch mythology, ed.), bog bodies and sagas and traditions I remembered as exciting stories from primary school.
While I was working on the project, a family member reminded me that my ancestors can be traced back to the 1700s in this formerly extensive peat area. I thought, “Wow, I’m standing here on my own roots.” This added a new dimension during the process of photographing. All those aspects that are not visible but can be felt – a kind of presence and absence of mind, reality, time, existence non-existence – inspired me to consider a transparent material. I wanted to translate the transience of these conditions. That is why the glass plates are not framed and the glass only has a metal base. This way, the image is free to blend in with the environment, without limitation.
Awoiska van der Molen
Amsterdam The Netherlands
UNBOUND – Moravid K (1982 Iran/ France/ Germany) Gallery Bigainon Paris (images 89)
This Too Shall Pass (2020-2022) – To see the static, silent, empty, overwhelmingly lifeless landscape and to confront what remains after the wild bushfires. This Too Shall Pass begins in Australia in 2020 and continues in France in 2021 and 2022, with the fires affecting both countries. This project questions the complexity of human perception, the adjustment mechanism that allows us to tame the brutal, the destructive. How we set up a process to make the Thanatos bearable. Not forgetting our strength to seek beauty in the absolute darkness. This Too Shall Pass is divided into three parts. After the denial of the first encounter with the burnt landscape and the stupefaction it provokes; comes the realisation – collecting the material, the charred trace of the trees on the photographic prints; and finally, trivialisation and oblivion, a fragmentation and abstraction of the matter in the minds without having solved the problem of wildfires.
Visual artist, Morvarid K was born in Tehran in 1982 and although she left Iran relatively early, her attachment to the Iranian identity is the foundation of her relationship to the world and of her artistic sensitivity. Through the manipulation of photographic material, her work questions our relation to the world, the transformative memory, and the in-between. The photographic medium is the starting point, it anchors her work in reality, while the superposition and transformation techniques bring the additional expressions photography couldn’t capture. The print becomes a material, a stage in the creative process, before any gesture or performative experience complete the work. The definition Laurent Derobert, existential mathematician, gives to the word “lack” sits at the heart of her artistic practice: infinite presence of absence. Morvarid lives and works in Bordeaux, France and Berlin, Germany.
18, rue du Bourg-Tibourg,
75004 Paris, France
UNBOUND – Jaehun Park (1986 Korea) Bradwolff & Partners Amsterdam (image 90) (also in today’s contribution on UNSEEN part 2)
Overheated Windmill deals with seeing windmill as world heritage nowadays and its industrial usage for colony build on 17th. Windmills were designed to harness the powers of nature by using the force of the wind to pump water out of low-lying areas, saw wood or grind grain. It was used especially in the Netherlands to manage water and keep dry land by preventing floods. In present times these functions are gone and exist as a wonderful Dutch landscape for tourists as a world heritage site.
The mills that were used for sawing wood ensured a flourishing shipbuilding industry in the Zaanstreek region in Old Holland. This is where the world’s first bona fide industrial zone emerged in the 17th century. Around 1650, some 75 ships were built here each year. Even Tsar Peter the Great came over from Russia to learn how to build a ship in Zaandam. These ships built by windmill technology-enabled to build a bigger sized ship and it became the cornerstone for the construction of a lucrative trade routes that made the 17th Century a ‘Golden Age’.
Jaehun Park studied painting at Seoul National University and did a Master’s in Artistic Research at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. He is exhibited & collected internationally, in public & private collections.
bradwolff & partners
1017 wx amsterdam
UNBOUND Displaced Materials Lab – Adrián Coto Rodríguez & Vladimir Florentin (1984 Costa Rica/UK & 1987 Rumania/ UK)(images 91)
Displaced Materials Lab is an artistic duo, founded by Adrián Coto Rodríguez and Vladimir Florentin. DML researches and expands the field of photography using a range of innovative strategies to create photographic sculptures, performance pieces, installations and augmented reality art.
DML was created in 2022 after both artists graduated from the prestigious Photography Arts Masters at the University of Westminster. Having exhibited in London, Spain, Costa Rica and Rumania, DML combines two extensively complex practices to produce challenging new photography-based artworks.
DML emerged from the desire to produce work around the construction of human environments and the effect of the context (cultural, architectonic, ergonomic) in the human body and territory. Both of our members are alumni of the Westminster Masters in Photography Arts, a practice-based programme that enabled us to expand the limits of our understanding of contemporary photography.
Displaced Materials Lab
UNBOUND Thom van Rijckevorsel (1977 The Netherlands) (images 92)
Thom van Rijckevorsel’s work consists of video, sculpture, drawing and installations. Images under construction: processes on their way to becoming an image. His video works show recognisable actions, such as kneading clay, bending a piece of rubber, smearing paint over two hands. Demonstrations of how something is manipulated. Easy to understand, without knowing exactly what you are understanding. He is interested in the space that arises when the physical and the easily manipulated digital are intertwined. This makes his work both tangible and elusive.
The work he is showing at is called Fixing Fiction Friction (2022, video, 3.41’ loop) It is displayed on a vertically placed 49” monitor standing on the floor, leaning against the wall.
Thom van Rijckevorsel
Amstelveen The Netherlands
Correspondent L’Œil de la Photographie/Eye of Photographie