This New Platform Gives Photographers an Immersive Way to Exhibit Their Work
Evelyn Bencicova, from the “Alice” series. Courtesy of Uncoated.
Curator Josephine de Fijter believes art is a gateway to learn more about the world, or oneself. Last October, she made that entryway physical with her exhibition “The Photo Room.” Tucked under the train tracks near Amsterdam’s central station, the show saw viewers leave the city streets and become immersed in an entirely dark space, illuminated only by images flickering across the walls, and surrounded by ambient electronic melodies composed by Berlin-based DJ and producer Atelier Francesco.
Through this “black cube” multisensory gallery show, which took place during the electronic music conference Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE), De Fijter introduced attendees to 12 emerging photographers and duos. The works included Bryce Willem’s scans of real flora that appear to trail off into glitch art; Lana Prins’s intimate and romantic self-portraits; and Cristina Coral’s conceptual scenes that are redolent of the color and rhythm of a Wes Anderson film combined with the eerie, metaphysical nature of Giorgio de Chirico paintings.
“The Photo Room” is just one of the projects De Fijter has curated as the founder of Uncoated, a Berlin-based platform for contemporary photographers with an emphasis on discovery. Uncoated does not offer traditional gallery representation, but instead promotes a roster of primarily emerging and international photographers through artist talks and group shows, as well as through its website and Instagram account. Though most of the photographers De Fijter promotes are up-and-coming, notable names like artist Zanele Muholi and commercial shooter Carl Warner appear, too.
Cristina Coral, from the “Alternative Perspective” series. Courtesy of Uncoated.
Lana Prins, from the “Undertow” series. Courtesy of Uncoated.
De Fijter was working as an exhibition manager for a Rotterdam design studio when she was struck by the power of fully immersive installations. The idea of becoming part of the narrative itself, rather than passively viewing an image, stayed with her as she took on curatorial and marketing roles in the art world.
At the same time, De Fijter realized many of the photographers she met didn’t know how to promote themselves beyond Instagram. “Most of them didn’t even print their work or hadn’t ever shown it in a physical space,” she said. So she decided to begin Uncoated as a way for photographers to not only promote themselves, but have audiences truly engage with their work in meaningful ways. “The feeling you get when you see an artwork, and you become one with it—I wanted to share that feeling with other people,” she described.
Photo by Matthew Coleman. Courtesy of Uncoated.
Bryce Willem, from the “Binarium” series. Courtesy of Uncoated.
De Fijter likes to show art outside of the art world, partnering with music venues or clothing boutiques to showcase images to a wider audience. In nightlife, specifically, she believes art installations can play a role, building “the different layers of an experience” for clubgoers—like “The Photo Room” did for ADE attendees exploring the festival’s events across the city. At the end of the year, she will collaborate with De School, an Amsterdam nightclub-cum-restaurant-cum-art space, on a new exhibition. In addition, she recently launched a creative agency side of the business, Studio Uncoated, to give her artists opportunities to work commercially with brands.
De Fijter finds new talent through open submissions on Uncoated’s site. Applications require a cohesive and polished series as well as a description about the work. She noted she looks for both a level of professionalism in the presentation, as well as an immediate “chemical reaction” to the work itself. Ultimately, she wants artists who speak insightfully and passionately about the themes they explore, and are game to present their images in exploratory atmospheres, where viewers can experience something new and adventitious.