Across The Globe: Artist Spotlight #6

Unseen Amsterdam
Sep 6, 2019 4:03PM

An Eye For An Eye, from the series A Myth of Two Souls, 2018-2019 © Vasantha Yogananthan/The Photographers' Gallery

This week we travel across the channel and take a closer look at the five UK based galleries attending Unseen Amsterdam this year. With a broad approach to the medium, these galleries represent a range of international artists engaging with current socio-political and environmental topics.


Based in London, A.I. is a gallery platform and curatorial project space for emerging artists. At Unseen Amsterdam, A.I. will showcase work from international artists focusing on the contemporary representation of East- and Southeastern Asian women. Elizabeth Gabrielle Lee (b. 1994, SG) mixes photography, text and installation in her practice. At Unseen Amsterdam, she will present We’ve got the sun under our skin, a series illustrating the incremental effects of colonial literature on the construction of modern identity. Drawing from the 20th Century British travelogues and ethnographic accounts of the Unfederated Malay States, now part of Malaysia, her body of work is a response to these recovered colonial narratives. The work is shot entirely in Britain and functions as a portrayal of the explorers’ experiences in the Straits Settlements, with the aim to subvert the orientalist gaze. As well as presenting her own work, the artist is the founder of XING, an online collective which will also exhibit at Unseen Amsterdam 2019. Through image and prose, the artists challenge hegemony and celebrate unity, while exploring the representation of women in East and South East Asia. The exhibiting artists include Lin Zhipeng, Mayumi Hosokura, Takuya Nagata, Tammy Volpe and Teresa Eng.

Foot Face, 2017 © XING (Lin Zhipeng aka 223)/A.I.

Flowers Gallery

Established in 1970, Flowers Gallery currently represents 48 international artists engaging with current socio-political and environmental themes through their practice. At this year’s Fair, the gallery is returning for the eighth time and representing two artists focusing on changing landscapes. Scarlett Hooft Graafland (b. 1973, NL) focuses on the disappearance of traditional cultures and the fragility of nature. Whether concerning the salt flats of Bolivia, farm sheds in Iceland or beaches in Yemen, her projects are set in remote and, at times, forgotten places on Earth. In her latest work, she explores themes such as toxic masculinity, the conflict between culture and nature and the urban landscape. Lorenzo Vitturi's (b. 1980, IT) practice lies at the crossroads between photography, sculpture and performance. Through his training as a set/scenic painter, Vitturi merges different disciplines in order to highlight the complexities of our surroundings. At Unseen Amsterdam 2019, he will be premiering new work, currently still in progress.

Golden Masmo, 2019 © Scarlett Hooft Graafland/Flowers Gallery

Black Box Projects

Pushing the boundaries of contemporary art galleries, Black Box Projects does not exist as a space but solely as temporary project-based exhibitions, and aims to be a pioneer of the changing gallery model. The gallery specialises in contemporary photography. At Unseen Amsterdam, this gallery will present work from artists who are concerned with our connection to natural landscapes, the materiality of images and the transience of photography as an object. Premiering new work, Adam Jeppesen (b. 1978, DK) shifts the focus from his typical subject of rugged landscapes to the individual and the search for spirituality. Through the artworks within The Pond and Tanks the artist experiments with various printing techniques, materials, multiple exposures and creates three-dimensional sculptural photographic works. Inspired by the Pictorial movement of the late 19th and early 20th Century, Steve Macleod’s (b. 1965, GB) project was inspired by dreams of his native Scottish Highlands, which he experienced whilst undergoing psychological treatment after a manic bipolar episode. At Unseen Amsterdam, he will present images from Indigo, a series shot on film and hand printed by the artist in the darkroom, where he reproduces the landscapes envisioned in his sleep. Also inspired by nature, Liz Nielsen’s (b. 1975, USA) series Interdimensional Landscapes, focuses on Yellowstone National Park, a natural reserve characterised by its seismic activity and natural hot springs. For the first time, in this premiering series, Nielsen mines an archive of negatives and creates photograms printed over traditional photographic composition. Nielsen thereby produces a space which both marks the present and acts as a premonition of the future.

Pyramid, from the series Interdimensional Landscapes, 2019 © Liz Nielsen/Black Box Projects

Seen Fifteen

This gallery’s artistic programme is dedicated to the work of contemporary photographers, with a specialist focus on photography’s ‘Expanded Field’ and artists who push the boundaries of the medium. Marianne Bjørnmyr (b. 1986, NO) is a Norwegian artist who explores our understanding and interpretation of photographic material. Her project, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, premiering at Unseen Amsterdam, sheds light on the development of local communities in Norwegian mining villages by focusing on luxury materials such as marble, contrasting with the disused marble quarries of Northern Norway. Meanwhile, Alexander Mourant’s (b. 1994, GB) To Feel its Touch uses nature as a device, both physical and metaphysical, to suggest that material is a container for the lived experience. In his series, Mourant creates photograms utilising materials from road excavations such as earth, rock and sand, which he immerses into a large water tank. The result is a stunning collection of large-format negatives.

Between a Rock and a Hard Place VI, from the series from the series Between a Rock and a Hard Place, 2019 © Marianne Bjornmyr/Seen Fifteen

The Photographers' Gallery

Founded in 1971, The Photographers' Gallery is the first public gallery in the UK dedicated to the presentation and exploration of photography in all its forms. The Photographers' Gallery will represent artists whose works draw close connections with nature and the surrounding environment. Meghann Riepenhoff (b. 1979, USA) will present work from her series Littoral Drift, developed by the first-hand interference from external factors. Her practice involves the interaction of the ocean on her work, which creates inscriptions on the photographic material through wind and littoral sediments. In A Myth of Two Souls, Vasantha Yogananthan (b. 1985, FR) traces a journey across India, capturing the impact and pervasiveness of the omnipresent cultural myth of everyday Indian life. In his analogue pictures, masterfully crafted through the use of natural light, mystic creatures cross paths with urban and natural landscapes. In Luke Stephenson’s (b. 1983, GB) series The English Rose, he pays tribute to the iconic symbol of his homeland by celebrating the beauty of roses, capturing their rich colours and variety of forms.

An Eye For An Eye, from the series A Myth of Two Souls, 2018-2019 © Vasantha Yogananthan/The Photographers' Gallery

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

Unseen Amsterdam