Meet the winners of the awards recently presented at the 2016 edition of Unseen Photo Fair in Amsterdam.
Among the winners this year are emerging Chinese photographer Ren Hang and Kenyan Elspeth Diederix.
Unseen Photo Fair has been around for five editions so far, and has constantly offered an open and easy access to photographic art from all over the world to collectors of all levels and ages. Its fifth edition, which ran from 22 to 24 September 2016, and the concurrent ten-day Unseen Photo Festival, now in its 16th edition, saw a total of 10,000 visitors and a noticeable increase (PDF download) in the number of international collectors. Unseen Photo Fair hosted 53 international galleries presenting work by over 150 photographers, with more than 80 bodies of work making their debut at the fair.
Unseen Awards 2016
Unseen Photo Fair each year presents awards to emerging photographers (PDF download) to recognise their talent and foster their artistic careers. These include the ING Unseen Talent Award, the Outset | Unseen Exhibition Fund, the Meijburg Art Commission and the Unseen Dummy Award. This year, Unseen also introduced the Grolsch Unseen Residency, a partnership between the fair and the beer company Grolsch aimed to encourage new photographers to “challenge and inspire”.
Grolsch Unseen Residency will award one artist a two-month scholarship over the winter/spring period, held in 2017 in London, where the artist will be working closely with professional photographers and other leaders of the local creative industry on a new body of work with “an unconventional approach to the urban creative landscape”. The project will be documented online, giving an insight into the process and a glimpse of finished work, which will be unveiled at the Unseen Photo Fair & Festival 2017.
The five nominees for the first Grolsch Unseen Residency include Stephanie Syjuco (b. 1974, Philippines), Lana Mesić (b. 1987, Croatia), Kevin Cooley (b. 1975, United States), Femke Dekkers (b. 1980, The Netherlands) and Sanna Kannisto (b. 1974, Finland).
ING Unseen Talent Award 2016 for European photographers
During the day of the official opening of Unseen Photo Fair on 22 September, an international jury announced the ING Unseen Talent Award winner for 2016, Thomas Albdorf (b. 1982, Austria), who received a project fund of EUR10,000 and was selected from among a shortlist of five artists. Miren Pastor (b. 1985, Spain) is the winner of the Public Prize, decided by an online poll, and received a commission to create new work for the ING Collection. ING Bank is the main sponsor of Unseen, and the Talent Award is dedicated to emerging artists from Europe.
Unseen Dummy Award 2016: Dieter Lathauwer (Belgium)
Dieter Lathauwer (b. 1978, Belgium) is the winner of the 2016 Unseen Dummy Award, an initiative of Unseen and Lecturis, which gives the winning artist an entrée into the international photography industry. His photographic book I Loved My Wife (killing children is good for the economy), by Dieter de Lathauwer, will be published and presented during Unseen Photo Fair 2017. Dieter notes that his book “highlights one of the darkest sides of the previous century in Europe, which was and still remains under-exposed”.
Meijburg Art Commission 2016: Elspeth Diederix (Kenya)
The Meijburg Art Commission was initiated by tax advisory firm Meijburg & Co as part of Unseen Photo Fair and is now in its second edition. The Meijburg Art Commission aims to discover talented artists whose multimedia work focuses on photography. The commission supports emerging artists in their career and offers them the opportunity to excel in their chosen discipline.
All artists at Unseen Photo Fair could participate in the selection process. The artists were asked to submit a proposal for a unique, site-specific work of art with photography as a central focus.
Kenyan artist Elspeth Diederix (b. 1971, Nairobi, Kenya) was announced as the winner on 23 September, chosen among five nominees that also included Awoiska van der Molen (b. 1972, Netherlands), Mandy Barker (b. 1964, UK), Motohiro Takeda (b. 1982, Japan) and Yoko Ikeda (b. 1965, Japan).
Elspeth Diederix will be given a project fund to produce her site-specific work for the Meijburg & Co offices, which will subsequently be acquired by the Meijburg & Co art collection. The international jury, which included Wilbert Kannekens (Chairman Managing Board, Meijburg & Co), Genevieve Fussel (Senior Photo Editor, The New Yorker) and Unseen’s 2016 campaign artists, Christto & Andrew, commented, as quoted in the press release:
We were taken by the understated complexity of her images. Upon first glance, they are striking photographs of flowers. Upon a closer look, however, the viewer realizes that the work has great depth. Elspeth is constructing environments, manipulating reality by creating flowers that don’t actually exist. Her work requires you to think a bit more, to wonder what is going on, what has she done to create the image? Her work reminds us of the famous Dutch Masters and its typical lighting.
Outsen | Unseen Exhibition Fund 2016: Ren Hang (China)
Outset | Unseen Exhibition Fund is an institutional platform for emerging talent. The curatorial committee comprising Alona Pardo (b. 1974, curator Barbican Art Gallery, London), Carolyn H. Drake (b. 1985, independent curator, Director at A Tale of a Tub, Rotterdam) and Thomas Dukes (b. 1984, curator Open Eye Gallery, Liverpool) selected Beijing-based artist Ren Hang (b. 1987, China) to present a solo exhibition at Foam at the beginning of 2017. Foam is a an internationally operating organisation in the field of photography, based in Amsterdam.
Originally from Chang Chun in Northeastern China’s Jilin Province, Ren Hang is a poet and photographer, whose work is deliberately provocative, and challenges conventional codes of morality in a still highly conservative society. The artist’s work has appeared in leading independent magazines in China and around the world, and has been exhibited widely both at home and abroad.
The jury commented on Ren Hang’s practice:
Employing the language of fashion photography, Ren Hang’s irreverent and playfully sexual compositions create new sculptural forms using the body. The curatorial committee are impressed by the consistent quality and sophistication across his practice and within each image.
Hang’s intuitive ability to construct portraits both in interior spaces and in nature combine to create photographs that resist a singular interpretation. Continuing a tradition of photographic expression in defiance of censorship, Hang’s work evades Chinese authority guidance on what can and should be represented by surreptitiously photographing the nude body in public spaces.
Poetry is central to Hang’s practice, both in the image and written form and his prolific output creates a stream of consciousness that expresses his desire for a life free of restriction.
C. A. Xuân Mai Ardia
- An Archive of the Cultural Revolution: China’s documentary photographer Li Zhensheng in Singapore – September 2016 – The Arts House holds solo exhibition of work documenting the Cultural Revolution by Chinese photojournalist Li Zhensheng during SIPF 2016
- Preview | Photo Gallery: PHOTOFAIRS | Shanghai 2016 – September 2016 – Art Radar previews PHOTOFAIRS | Shanghai, which will present 50 leading galleries from 15 countries
- “Athens Love”: Chinese photographer Ren Hang at Klein Sun Gallery, New York – in pictures – APril 2016 – Ren Hang’s poetic photographs capture an idyllic world inspired by Greek mythology and the Mediterranean landscape
- Travel Photo Jaipur: The Pink City celebrates wanderlust – January 2016 – the international outdoor photography festival Travel Photo Jaipur shines intimate spotlights on unique corners around the world, from 5 to 14 February 2016
- ‘In and Out of the Studio: Photographic Portraits from West Africa’ – in pictures – September 2015 – the Metropolitan Museum of Art expands notions of photographic culture in West Africa
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