Across The Globe: Artist Spotlight #4

Unseen Amsterdam
Aug 10, 2019 3:24PM

waves under my eyelids, from the series ALBAHIAN © Joana Choumali/Gallery 1957

In the weeks leading up to Unseen Amsterdam 2019, we are taking a closer look at our galleries from across the globe. This week we discover talents from galleries based in the Middle East and West Africa along with their represented artists who are innovating the field of photography through mixed media, video and installation.

Gallery 1957


Based in Accra, this gallery is dedicated to contemporary art and its distribution internationally. With a curatorial focus on West Africa, the gallery presents a programme of exhibitions, installations and performances by the region’s most significant artists. The gallery will participate at Unseen Amsterdam for the first time this year, and will showcase a solo presentation of work by Joana Choumali (CI, b. 1974), a photographer who lives and works in the Ivory Coast. Through her work she explores her own understanding of the innumerable cultures coexisting together, encompassing subject-matters such as migration, identity, social justice and the history of myth-making. In her series Alba’hian, Choumali uses embroidery directly on photographs, thus completing the act of creating the image. In her photographs, the use of textile becomes a sort of meditative practice, highlighting the different ways in which we reflect and reinvent our imagined selves. Nowadays, Choumali has established herself as a provocative voice in the realm of African talents. We’re also very excited to announce that Choumali will take part in our Woven Matters exhibition, taking place this year at Unseen Amsterdam - more on this to come soon!

Trapped Soul, from the series Albahian, 2019 © Joana Choumali/Gallery 1957

Ag Galerie


Tehran based, Ag Galerie is devoted to exhibiting works of contemporary photography and video by emerging and established Iranian artists. This year the gallery will showcase Ghazeleh Rezaei’s (IR, b. 1990) Light Upon Light, a studio of chiaroscuro in photography. In this series, Rezaei captures the light of historic architectural spaces and the reflection of external light upon them. Reflecting upon the colour white instead, Matin Abedi (IR, b. 1989) attempts to overcome her fear of the colour by confronting it head on and tackling themes of loneliness and extreme fear in her work. She does so by mixing photographs, linen, beading and thread all together in her photographic practice. Shahrzad Darafsheh (IR, b. 1982) also uses her work as a way of healing. Four years ago, Shahrzad was diagnosed with cancer and had to undergo intense recovery treatment. Photography has been a method to help Shahrzad through her fight against cancer, sharing how going through this experience has affected her vision of the world. Mixed-media artist and photographer Parisa Aminollahi (IR, b. 1978) will be represented with an ongoing personal project titled Teheran Diis, focusing on her mother and a generation of lonely parents in her hometown Tehran.

Untitled, from the series Half-Light, 2017 © Shahrzad Daragshe/Ag Galerie

Mohsen Gallery


First time exhibitor Mohsen Gallery was established in Tehran in 2010 and aims to showcase interdisciplinary contemporary art. The gallery represents a variety of artists who play with image quality and the texture of photographs. Self-taught photographer Sasan Abri (IR, b. 1984) is among the artists experimenting with photography in order to reinvent the way we look at images. Through his series Scattered Days, Abri takes black and white analogue pictures of strangers and passersby in urban and suburban landscapes that he prints out manually tile by tile and then puts back together. The result is an image between a charcoal drawing and a photograph. Working with a different array of techniques, Gohar Dashti’s (IR, b. 1980) Still Life presents a series of cyanotypes and lensless photography photograms which are then transferred to large-scale digital prints. Arya Tabandehpoor (IR, b. 1985) is consistently experimental in his approach to make art; drawing from his knowledge in computer science, his series Retooling is split into two parts: the visual and the mechanical. One consists of images created by computer codes and the other consists of pictures that portray discarded machines as part of bigger systems before their disuse.

Untitled, from the series Still Life, 2017 © Gohar Dashti/Mohsen Gallery

Zilberman Gallery

Turkey and Germany

Founded in Istanbul in 2008, Zilberman stages around 12 exhibitions every year at its gallery spaces in Istanbul and Berlin, where a specific focus is given to education and outreach programmes. At Unseen Amsterdam, this gallery will bring a solo of Zeynep Kayan (TR, b. 1986), a visual artist particularly focused on the use of repetition and variations in her practice. With her series Temporary Sameness, she treats the subject of the body as a material, by experimenting with objects, video and sound. While in her new series Soaked, she dips her printed portraits into water, letting the liquid move to the pores of the paper and reshape them. This series was digitally launched on the Unseen Platform.

Insulator II, from the series Temporary Sameness, 2019 © Zeynep Kayan/Zilberman Gallery

You can find out more about all the artists exhibiting at Unseen Amsterdam 2019 here.

Unseen Amsterdam